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You can install Google Camera 8.0 on older Pixel phones, but it’s not easy

The Google Pixel 5 has reached reviewers and will soon be landing in the hands of customers around the world, bringing with it a new update to the Google Camera app. Luckily, it’s possible to install Google Camera 8.0 on older Pixel phones, but it’s not as easy as one would hope.

Earlier today, reviewers gave us their impressions of the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G, Google’s latest flagship and upper-mid-range Android phones. Now that reviewers can speak and share freely about the new Pixels, the newest update to the Google Camera app, version 8.0, is available in the wild.

While the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G both have new camera features like cinematic pan and the inclusion of Night Sight in portrait mode, simply installing Google Camera 8.0 on older Pixels really only brings a slight reorganization and some UI tweaks. The only new “features” we noticed were the ability to use Social Share to quickly share your latest recorded video to YouTube, and a way to turn Astrophotography completely off within Night Sight.

In fact, we noticed that Playground (AR Stickers) was no longer available on the Pixel 3 XL. For now, we believe this removal to be accidental, attributable to using a Pixel 5 specific build of Google Camera 8.0, as Google promised that Playground features would continue to work on older devices.

Between the lack of new features and the removal of some features, we don’t currently advise installing this update to Google Camera until it arrives naturally to your phone via the Google Play Store.

That said, there will always be those who want to get their hands on things early. Normally, when an update like this becomes available, you can simply download the APK file from a trusted website or publication and immediately install it on your phone. However, with Google Camera 8.0, Google seems to have made a few changes to the way the app is designed that make it a bit more challenging than usual to install.

The first, and simplest, change is that Google Camera 8.0 is now uses “splits,” a still fairly recent change to Android app distribution that lets developers separate things like language, screen density, and processor — all of which can vary wildly between different people’s devices — from the “base” code of the app.

Essentially, instead of installing one APK to update an app, you need to simultaneously install multiple. There’s a handful of ways to install split APKs like this, which we’ll look at in a bit.

However, there appears to be a more critical issue preventing the installation of Google Camera 8.0 on older Pixel phones, for which we haven’t yet found a full explanation. Most people who attempt to install the Google Camera 8.0 update — and also the Google Recorder 2.0 update — are greeted with the error “INSTALL_FAILED_VERIFICATION_FAILURE.”

Not everyone who tries to install the update will receive the error, but we’re not yet sure what’s different about these folks’ phones that allows them to install. Folks like John Wu, creator of Magisk, and the team behind APKMirror are working to find the underlying cause of the issue and a long-term solution.

In the meantime, however, there is still a way to get Google Camera 8.0 on your older Pixel phones with Android 11 — sorry, 2016 Pixel fans. As discovered by Google Camera modder and friend of the site cstark27, both Google Camera 8.0 and Google Recorder are able to be installed by first factory resetting your phone. We tested this method ourselves and found Google Camera to install exactly as expected after completing the initial setup.

Note: Factory resetting your phone will erase all of your local data, including any photos, messages, and app data not backed up to the cloud. We recommend using the Google One app to backup your phone to Google Drive before proceeding.

For a quick reminder of how to factory reset your Pixel phone, open the Settings app, tap System, then tap Reset options. From this page, tap “Erase all data (factory reset)” and follow the prompts to finish the reset. Once reset, set your phone back up and follow the instructions below to install Google Camera 8.0.

How to install Google Camera 8.0 on older Pixels (after resetting)

There are actually three distinct ways to install Google Camera 8.0 on your Pixel phone, each one a bit different, but all three essentially do the same thing. Which one you choose is merely a matter of preference. If any one method doesn’t work, the other two will fail in the exact same way.

You can, of course, attempt any one of these three methods before resetting your phone. Some have had luck getting Google Camera 8.0 to install without factory resetting, but if you run into an error along the lines of “INSTALL_FAILED_VERIFICATION_FAILURE,” you’ll need to factory reset and try again to get the update installed.

Again though, with the limited number of changes and added features, we do not currently recommend that you to install this update until it arrives naturally through the Google Play Store.

Method 1: APKMirror Installer

As usual, one of the easier ways to get an app from outside of the Google Play Store is through APKMirror. The folks there have created a dedicated APKMirror Installer app used to make installing split APKs easy.

Once you have the APKMirror Installer app on your phone, download the specially combined “.apkm” file of Google Camera 8.0 from APKMirror. By default, trying to open that file should launch directly into APKMirror Installer, where you’ll need to confirm the installation a few times.

Method 2: SAI (Split APKs Installer)

The second method also uses an app, one called Split APKs Installer, or SAI for short. SAI can install and even create its own special “.apks” file that wraps up all of the split APK files into one easy to download and install package.

Next you’ll need to download the .apks file for Google Camera 8.0 — uploaded by the folks at XDA-Developers — from MEGA. Once downloaded, open SAI, tap “Install APKs,” and find the “Camera_8.0.018.335051840.apks” file you just downloaded. You’ll then be prompted by Android to install the update.

Method 3: ADB (advanced)

If you’re not too trusting of these third-party apps, or if you’d rather try to do it yourself and maybe learn a bit more about Android along the way, you can also manually install the split APKs for Google Camera 8.0. To do this, you’ll need your phone, a computer with ADB installed and updated, and a USB cable to connect the two. If you’re choosing this method, we’ll assume you already have these things or know how to set them up.

First, download the same “Camera_8.0.018.335051840.apks” file, seen in Method 2 above, to your computer. Next, change the end of the file name from “.apks” to “.zip” as SAI simply creates renamed zip files. Now you can, and should, easily unzip the contents into a folder of your choice. You should now have a folder with the following files:

  • base.apk
  • icon.png
  • meta.sai_v1.json
  • meta.sai_v2.json
  • split_config.arm64_v8a.apk
  • split_config.en.apk
  • split_config.ja.apk
  • split_config.xxhdpi.apk

In among these files, we have some extra files used by SAI that we can ignore, along with a variety of extra APKs for other languages you might not need. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll assume you only need the English language pack, but feel free to add more to suit your needs.

Next, connect your phone to your computer with a USB cable, and ensure that USB Debugging is enabled on your Pixel phone. Finally, from your terminal/command prompt of choice, run the following command to install the various APKs of Google Camera 8.0:

adb install-multiple base.apk split_config.en.apk split_config.xxhdpi.apk split_config.arm64_v8a.apk

No matter which method you used, you should now have Google Camera 8.0 installed on your Pixel phone. That said, for most people, the improvements to Google Camera’s UI and settings are probably not worth the extra effort of needing to factory reset your phone.

We’ve tested this method on a Pixel 3 XL and cstark27 got the app running on his Pixel 4 XL without issue. If you decide to go through the extra effort to install Google Camera 8.0, let us know in the comments which Pixel phone you’re using and if it worked with or without factory resetting.

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Avatar for Kyle Bradshaw Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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