GoPro Rolls Out Labs Feature: Adds Pile of New Features to Hero 8

In a move that comes entirely out of left field, GoPro announced a new GoPro Labs feature (hosted on GitHub no less) that lets you tweak the heck out of your Hero 8 Black camera. With it comes the ability to configure settings instantly via QR codes, but more importantly it adds a sweeping set of new features to the camera, most of which are targeted heavily at GoPro geeks, or people that are pushing the limits of GoPro’s today.

Which doesn’t mean they aren’t practical to everyone. In fact, the image you see above is a perfect example of something that could (should) be rolled out to every camera: Customizing the startup screen to show your information in case your camera gets lost (Side note: You know you can do that with any Garmin Edge computer too, right?).

The way GoPro Labs works is that you load a special Hero 8 firmware onto your camera (it only works on the Hero 8). It’s quick and easy, just like loading any other GoPro firmware over the last decade if you didn’t use the GoPro app (which is to say, you simply unzip a folder onto your microSD card and you’re done). Once that happens it unlocks all the new features, as well as gives you flexibility to pretty much tell the camera to do anything you want with a simple QR card.

In simple terms, there’s about 12-15 new features that have clearly defined boundaries. However, in reality with enough creativity, you’re probably talking about many dozens of new applications and purposes. Here’s a quick sampler:

– Can now create owner startup screen
– Can now create motion-triggered recordings/photos
– Can now create Time of Day/Duration trigger (e.g. take a photo at 7AM or 23 hours from now)
– Can create timers to only shoot during daylight hours (such as a construction site time-lapse)
– Added Sunrise and sunset triggers
– Added long time-lapses up to 50 days on a single GoPro battery (such as leaving out in the woods)
– Added Speed-based triggers (such as once you go above 20KPH)
– Can now have GoPro video files up to 12GB in size (versus previous 4GB sizes)
– Can now customize GoPro video/photo file names with camera-specific information
– Can use QR code generator to create a QR code for any GoPro config you can think of that instantly applies when lens is pointed at it
– Added time sync up to 1/100th of a second
– Added ability to have overlays baked into video (such as camera name, date/time, even speed)
– Added ability to have those overlays work in livestreams (including the speed one)
– Added under the hood information for the ReelSteady app (which GoPro bought this past March) to improve stabilization results

Now, the core of most of this comes down to a new QR function that allows the lens to recognize QR codes and, in turn, configure settings. GoPro has put up a few little mini-sites that generate QR codes that the camera will recognize. And no doubt I’m sure behind the scenes there’s other mythical Easter egg ones they’ll tell us about someday (or not).

Once you point the camera at the code, it instantly changes the setting or applies the new feature. For example, you could point it at your phone with a QR code for a specific camera mode, but you could also just as easily print out a tiny QR code and tape it to the back side of your skiing helmet so that you could have a super quick way (with gloves) to change into specific settings. For example, perhaps put a small sticker on the back left side of my helmet for 1080/240fps slow-mo mode, and then another sticker on the right side for 4K/30/Superview mode. Rather than trying to get to those modes with gloves in the middle of the winter at the top of a run.

Now, given this is a GoPro feature, I figured a video is best here. So below I go through all of these features step by step and give some of the use cases for each.

As always with something like this, these features may or may not ever make it into a GoPro camera. The whole concept started as an internal hackathon that then morphed into this public variant. Additionally, some of these features might not at all be useful to you personally. For example, I have little desire to shoot a 50 day timelapse. Inversely, I have immense desire for 12GB GoPro files and the ability to have my owner information on the camera. That’s super-useful to me.

In any case, hit play below to geek-out a bit.

Again, these features are only available on the Hero 8 Black. Frankly, it’s pretty rare for GoPro to add meaningful features to their normal cameras (360 cams are a bit different) after launch. Usually we see a few minor things, but nothing that would cross-over into ‘of marketing value’ in most cases. So I’m optimistic this is a different side of GoPro.

Now, if you have an older GoPro, I suppose the silver lining is that the Hero 8 Black has been discounted $100, down to $299 for a while now. Obviously, with nobody going on vacations or doing group-action things, GoPro needs to find some way to get people to buy their cameras. GoPro historically has always launched a camera in early fall (usually late September). It remains to be seen whether or not that happens this year, but realistically the Hero 8 at $299 is a super-good deal (also note, you can get this bundle for about $320 which includes two additional batteries and an SD card). In any case, almost everything you see me film these days outside from an action standpoint (running, cycling, or skiing), is from a Hero 8.

With that, thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

DC Rainmaker:

View Comments (23)

    • Oh and the random turning on of the cam that has been an issue with users for months.

    • Or the auto upload to GoPro plus that sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t.

      Or the app that crashes while editing or exporting.

      Or the bugs that freeze the camera requiring the battery to be removed.

      I love the footage from my hero 8, but the bugs and lack of updates or fixes is disappointing.

    • Agree. It is better if you make sure the camera is turned on for a little while, with a very clear view of the sky, before filming. But still not reliable for me.

    • A qualified yes, the same way you would do it with a Garmin, using Garmin's VIRB Edit. It's not nearly as automatic as with a VIRB, but you can do it with some effort. It doesn't work with time lapse at all, and you might have trouble with video modes that VIRB's don't support (since the latest VIRB, the 360, is many years old now, there are quite a few modes that VIRB Edit can't do. It's pretty clear that VIRB's and VIRB Edit are a thing of the past for Garmin.) But with enough futzing around with a standard video mode, you can put the same overlays on that you can with an actual VIRB. The "GMetrix" data will have to come from another Garmin device, though, since the GoPro records no metadata.

    • Yeah, it is surprising to me that they added GPS without providing some way to use the information. I don't know what else it is for. Also I found out they stopped development of the Mac and Windows apps and not just point people to standard video editing apps.

    • No, not at this point.

      That said, I asked about perhaps bringing some element of BLE control to be more open (there's some reverse engineered aspects, and some older GoPro Developer bits), but nothing open.

      The use case I think would be awesome would be a Garmin IQ app that triggers the camera to record upon Varia radar passes.

    • More useful to me is to have a page in the slide-down rotation on my 830 (what does Garmin call them, widgets?) that can control and show the status of the camera without me having to look at the GoPro itself. Even better would be if, like a VIRB, it would get a start signal from my Edge when the Edge started recording a ride.

  • I wish the ~$100 sale woul be in Switzerland too. It's still the original ~$400 price.

    I'll stay with my Virb 30, although it has become quite long in the tooth.

  • The custom file names is awesome.. And I am now thinking of getting some QR tattoos on my arm haha.. hmm.. maybe watching Memento last night wasn't such a good idea to do!

    • I'm going to get a T-shirt made up featuring the QR code for 40K60 so if anyone happens to video me they get me at the highest possible quality :-)

      I did initially think of having one printed to change people's start-up text, but that would be childish, right?

      I love this QR feature, but I think if GoPro go mainstream with it they're going to need to provide a way to disable it, or at least not have it permanently active!

  • They should also add a way to display a qr code with the current settings, so you can easily copy to another camera.

  • Is $299 going to be the new price point for GoPro in the future? If the Hero9 is $399, they are not going to sell too many unless there is a significant bump in features.

  • Looks like they are abandoning the iPhone model of forcing out new revisions on a fixed schedule no matter how little the hardware had actually changed, because inside that model all software innovation would have to be carefully held back by product manager types to unveil with the next generation.

    I think it's good for them, because the same small feature that is impressive as a firmware update can be disappointingly underwhelming when released is a next generation reveal. The brand will be better off with fewer, bigger hardware increments than with rapid minor ones.

  • Very interesting options, but GoPro stopped making sense to me when they discontinued the Session format

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