In March Patently Apple posted a report titled "Google has reportedly acquired Lytro, the leader in Light Field Imaging Technology. Today Google just happened to launch a feature for their Pixel 3 camera that Lytro was famous for. It would definitely be considered a tiny win for the Pixel 3 over the new iPhones.
While Apple was granted a patent for light field camera technology back in June 2017 they've yet to bring it to market. For the iPhone XS camera, Apple enhanced it to include better control over the amount of blur added to the background of a photo. Apple's all-new Depth Control is found when using Apple's "Portrait" mode.
During today's Google Event they matched Apple's slider control for depth yet added a new and powerful feature related to light field technology. You could better see it in our cover image above where the user, after the photo is taken, has the ability to change the focus of the photo from one person to another with just a simple touch on the digital photo.
Lytro used to have a public site allowing visitors to try this feature out on 50 or more large photos and I was mesmerized by the coolness of it. In one photo there was a bird in the forefront of the photo with the Golden Gate bridge blurred in the background. With a single touch on the bridge I was able to change the the focus of the photo with the bird now blurred and the bridge in clear view. The freedom it gives an amateur photographer is great.
Google didn't execute that part of the Pixel 3 camera presentation today very well by skimming over this feature rather quickly. It's an advantage over the iPhone and they should have hammered that point home and failed. Instead they presented us with the example below. Who cares if they refocused the photo from a person to the background trees? The audience missed the brilliance of this feature.
Hopefully Apple will be able to bring this patent-pending feature to their 2019 iPhone camera because, to me at least, it's a killer feature once you've experienced and understand its value.