Third-party photo applications on Android will be able to benefit from the HDR+ capabilities included with Google's Pixel 2 smartphone. Enhanced images with improved processing will be available through other apps starting with the Android Ore 8.1 preview. HDR+ has existed in the Google Camera for years, but it was significantly improved with the Pixel 2.
Because of the phone's Pixel Visual Core, a custom System on Chip circuit made by Google, those enhanced images can be processed 5x faster while using just 10% of the battery versus the regular application processor third-party apps must use.
A key ingredient to the IPU's efficiency is the tight coupling of the hardware and software. Our software controls many more details of the hardware than in a typical processor. Handling more control to the software makes the hardware simpler and more efficient, but it also makes the IPU challenging to program using traditional programming languages. - Ofer Shacham, Google
This software update will open up the Pixel Visual Core to non-default photo apps.