Quite a lot of phones these days use a laser to get an idea of depth for focusing purposes, rather than only relying on phase or contrast detection. That includes the Pixels, which hide theirs beneath the trademark top rear glass window. Well, Android P introduces a toggle to enable or disable that laser, if you need it.
Laser made visible on the OG 2016 Pixel XL.
Every once in a while we miss something (whoops), and this is one of those times. Turns out, this feature was present in Android P since DP1, but since it was around in a hidden form going as far back as Oreo, we missed it.
The elusive toggle in its natural environment.
Toggling this setting does exactly what you’d expect: Enabling and disabling the laser for focus-assist. I’m not entirely sure why someone would want to disable it, but there could be use cases that it might get in the way of, like tight spaces or accidental reflections.