The Chrome OS camera has gone through a few changes here and there over the years, but most things in it remain the same. The camera is functional at best and can be leveraged to snap a selfie or participate in a video chat when needed, but there’s really no one using this setup to capture memories on a regular basis the way we do on our phones. For one, the camera modules on Chromebooks are usually cost-saving hardware and secondly, the actual camera app is quite limited in its abilities.
While software updates can’t fix a low-quality lens, it can add more functionality where it is lacking, and that’s what we’re seeing being worked on for the Chrome OS camera. In a recent commit over in the Chromium Repositories, it looks like a few features are being worked on for both built-in and external cameras. Take a look:
camera: Support some MediaTrackCapabilities
This CL adds brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, pan and tilt support.
Test brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness on the built-in camera of ‘Eve.’ Test pan and tilt on Huddly Go camera.
Right now, the Chrome OS camera is extremely basic and limited. From the looks of this commit, however, some of the features we’ve all come to expect on our mobile device cameras could be on the way. Brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness adjustments will go a long way towards giving users a bit more control over their cameras and will really help devices that actually have usable cameras in them – like the upcoming Lenovo Chromebook Duet – capture better images and videos.
The pan and tilt support being tested on the Huddly Go camera (the rest was tested on the internal camera of ‘Eve’ a.k.a. the Pixelbook) will also make using external cameras in meetings a much better experience. It is unclear if these settings will carry over to both the photo and video portions of the camera, but I’m hopeful it will. More importantly, these controls and adjustments really need to be made available to the browser and whatever video conferencing tool a user may be leveraging at the time. If I can control brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness in my camera app but not in a Google Meet, this all feels a bit pointless.
If, however, these changes do show up and can be passed on to your video conferencing app of choice, being able to fine-tune the brightness and saturation will help wrangle in tough lighting situations we’ve all found ourselves in during the pandemic. As video chatting has now become a part of daily life for nearly everyone on the planet, it isn’t odd to see Google focusing in on making the experience better across the board for Chromebook users.
This particular change is still in the works and has not yet been merged, so don’t expect these new options to show up soon. My guess is we’ll see this within the next few OS updates, so maybe in M84 or M85. As with all upcoming features to Chrome OS, we’ll be keeping an eye on this and will report back when we actually see some updates that give users some of these needed features in the camera settings.