The Pixel team wrote a blog post revealing the behind-the-scenes story of the “Camera Bar” design, which first debuted in the Pixel 6 and has now become the signature feature of the Pixel smartphone lineup up to the present day.
The starting point came from the goal of the Pixel 6 to elevate the camera’s quality, which required using larger lenses. However, the previous design of the Pixel 5 had the camera placed in the same corner, limiting the design possibilities for the Pixel 6. Therefore, they needed to rethink and redesign the placement of the larger lenses without increasing the overall size of the device. Ultimately, they settled on a long, horizontal bar to accommodate the three cameras of the Pixel 6 Pro, ensuring an evenly distributed arrangement. The decision to use a black glass material for the bar also creates a visually clean and seamless look, blending in with the camera lenses.
The design choice of having a long camera bar required a complete overhaul of the camera system, which came with several limitations. For example, the primary lens and ultra-wide lens need to be adjacent to each other to enable seamless transitioning between different shooting modes, resulting in various production challenges.
When the time came for the Pixel 7, the camera bar underwent further improvements to give it a more mature and sophisticated appearance. They changed it to a metal bar instead of glass to highlight the camera lenses more prominently. The round and pill-shaped design elements were also inspired by the Material You theme of the software side.
This design was further refined in the Pixel Fold, which features a unique form factor. The team decided to opt for a “floating” design, leaving space between the edges and not extending the camera bar throughout the entire length of the device. This balanced the overall appearance when unfolding the Pixel Fold’s display.
As for the origin of the name “Camera Bar,” it is a play on words, taking inspiration from Google’s own “Search Bar.”
TLDR: The Pixel team redesigned the camera placement on the Pixel 6 and subsequent models, resulting in the distinctive Camera Bar. This design choice allowed for larger lenses without increasing the device’s size. The Pixel 7 and Pixel Fold further refined the design, using metal and adopting a floating style, respectively. The name “Camera Bar” is a nod to Google’s Search Bar.