Google strips ultrawide astrophotography from its 2020 Pixel flagships

Budding astrophotographers with a Pixel 4a 5G or a Pixel 5 in their pockets are finding that their options have been limited by Google. Apparently, Google has pushed an update to the Google Camera app that removes the astrophotography option from the Pixel 4A 5G and Pixel 5's ultrawide lens. While users at one one point had the option to shoot astrophotography photos using the wide angle lens, now they're prompted to switch to another lens before the feature will activate.

Google, perhaps unsurprisingly, didn't make a lot of noise about the removal of ultrawide astrophotography, and in fact it went unnoticed for about a month and a half. According to 9to5Google, the feature was removed in Google Camera's version 8.1 update, which was published back in the middle of November.

Now, when users go into Night Sight mode with the ultrawide camera active, they'll see a prompt at the top of the display that says "Zoom to 1x for astrophotography." When they do that and the astrophotography mode is activated, the ".6x" zoom option will disappear, which means that on the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5, the only astrophotography modes are at 1x and 2x zoom.

Google hasn't said that why it removed ultrawide astrophotography from these two phones, but there were some complaints about the photo quality at that setting. Perhaps Google removed the feature as it attempts to fix ultrawide astrophotography? That's purely speculation on our part, and with 9to5Google noting that the feature was used by some but not widely popular, we might not see ultrawide astrophotography return in the future.

In any case, if you're one of the folks who used it and want it back, you can always revert to Google Camera 7.6 by uninstalling updates. We'll see if Google brings back ultrawide astrophotography at some point in the future, but for now, the feature is dead. Stay tuned.