Here's How to Get Google's Game-Changing Night Sight on Your Pixel Phone

Flash is now optional.

Google’s Pixel smartphones are photography powerhouses. But the most game-changing feature — a feature called Night Sight that lets you take perfect, flash-less pictures in the dark — didn’t ship with the phones themselves.

That changed on Wednesday after the company announced that it had released its low-light photo editing software alongside a deep-dive into how is uses A.I. and A.I. alone to make the normally dark pictures taken at concerts, bars, or camping trips vivid and bright without relying on a source of light like a camera flash.

In other words, starting tonight, Pixel owners will finally be able to check on company boasts made at the Pixel launch, where images taken with Night Side were unflatteringly displayed next to the same image taken on an iPhone XS. The differences were clear as day.

google pixel night sight vs iphone xs camera
Left: iPhone XS. Right: Pixel 3 Night Sight. 

Night Sight: How to Get It on Your Pixel

To download Night Sight, all Pixel users need to do is navigate over to the Google Play Store and search for “Google Camera.” The description of the app won’t list Night Sight but you should see a green “Update” button directly below the app’s title. Tap that to get going.

Once the update is finished, head to the Pixel’s camera app, slide to the “More” option above the shutter button, and you should find Night Sight listed along with other camera features. Tap the half-moon symbol to begin using it.

Night Sight: How It Works and When To Use It

Night Sight uses a combination of machine learning algorithms and long-exposure photography to liven up photos that are too dark. This isn’t night vision, so don’t expect to be able to take detailed pictures in pitch-black rooms, you’ll still need a flash for that. But they do make for a pretty remarkable improvement.

google pixel 3 night sight
An example of what is possible with Night Sight.

Google provided a few tips to get the best results. They were clear that it will work the best on the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL because of the duo’s updated hardware.

  • Soft, uniform light is best: Think candle-lit restaurant or apartment for the best Night Sight pictures.
  • Avoid harsh, bright light. This feature will attempt to naturally brighten an image, so anything that’s already bright in your shot runs the risk of becoming blinding.
  • If it’s too dark for the camera to focus, pick a spot on the screen that sticks out the most or the edge of a light source.
  • Hold still. The camera will need to take a long-exposure shot, so brace your phone or prop it up somewhere.
  • Use it for selfies. It’s not only limited to the rear-camera.