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The key engineer behind many of the Pixel’s top camera features has left Google

One of the key figures behind the Google Pixel line’s biggest selling point − camera quality − has left the company.

Marc Levoy led the development of numerous camera features for the Pixel, including Portrait Mode, Night Sight, HDR+ and astrophotography mode. The Information has now revealed that he quietly left Google in March.

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The engineer joined Google full-time in 2014, but he’s a big part of the company’s origin story.

Levoy knew Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin when he was a professor and they were students at Stanford University in the 90s (he also says he “lent a few disk drives to PhD students David Filo and Jerry Yang” around the same time, which led to the creation of Yahoo).

Levoy was one of the figures behind Google Maps’ Street View too, and he’s also worked on Google Glass and been involved in the firm’s VR efforts.

What’s more, he’s even believed to be part of the story of hoe Google got its name.

“Oh yes, and then there is the story about how Google got its name, due to a spelling mistake made by one of my Stanford graduate students,” he writes on his website. “To hear the full story, you’ll have to treat me to a glass of wine.”

But it’s Levoy’s photography expertise that stands out as something that Google could sorely miss.

Each new Pixel flagship has consistently ranked highly (or topped) our constantly evolving roundup of the best camera phones, and we could soon find out just how central Levoy was to the smartphone range’s photography prowess. Perhaps not so much with the Pixel 4a, but certainly the Pixel 5.

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The Information has also revealed that Mario Queiroz, the former general manager of Google’s Pixel division, has left Google. Queiroz reportedly left his post two months before the launch of the Pixel 4 last October, and departed the firm in January.

The same report adds that Rick Osterloh, the head of Google’s hardware division, raised concerns about the Pixel 4’s terrible battery life before the phone’s launch in 2019, but nothing was done about it.

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