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Google confirms major camera improvements are coming to Android

Code uncovered last week suggested that Google was at work on a new Android camera API. It looks like that code was correct, as Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano confirmed the forthcoming update to CNet on Monday.

“Android’s latest camera HAL (hardware abstraction layer) and framework supports raw and burst-mode photography… We will expose a developer API [application programming interface] in a future release to expose more of the HAL functionality,” Scigliano said.

This means that support for features like burst-mode and capturing in RAW file formats is already built into Android. An update to the camera API will make these functions available to makers of camera apps.

The code uncovered last week also showed support for face detection and “removable” cameras. Scigliano didn’t touch on those features, but it looks like burst-mode will be a major focus. According to Scigliano:

The core concept of the new HAL and future API is centered around burst-mode photography… The basic idea is instead of taking a single shot with a given set of parameters, you instead have the power to queue up a request to take multiple shots each with different parameter settings such as exposure gain. The camera subsystem captures a the burst of shots, which can be subsequently post-processed by the application layer.

Some manufacturers have already added features like burst-mode to their cameras. But by building it into the software by default, it should open the feature up to many additional users.

When asked about the lackluster image quality of the new Nexus 5, Scigliano said, “The team is aware of the issues and is working on a software update that will be available shortly.”

One thing that should help is support for shooting RAW images. This will allow users to capture actual image sensor data alongside the traditional compressed JPEG image files. And because RAW files use very little processing or compression, your post-processing options expand dramatically.

Google didn’t offer a date to expect the Nexus update or the new API to be made available. Scigliano only said that it will be available “in a future release.”

5 Responses to “Google confirms major camera improvements are coming to Android”

  1. Moviestom Thahama

    new Camera API on Nexus5

    The new API also supports face detection. This feature includes bounding boxes around faces and center coordinates for the eyes and mouth. In addition to the face-focus capabilities, the system can assign unique IDs to each face (provided they stay on screen) so developers could do things like assign silly hats to multiple faces in a video feed. While you may have seen face detection on some Android devices, those were all solutions built by Android OEMs.

    More Read :

  2. This is great news – hopefully it will eliminate the lag problems that plague image acquisition.

    However, I hope that Google will address a MAJOR issue with all its Nexus devices and some other Android devices. The issue is screen calibration – the Nexus devices do not conform to the industry standard gamma setting of 2.2 resulting in washed out colors in lighter regions and grainy shadow details.

    Many have attributed the Nexus devices less than stellar image display to poor hardware. By installing a custom kernel, I’ve been able to adjust the gamma and compare images with that of a calibrated monitor and this simple change makes the Nexus devices truly shine. Both images and videos look substantially better this way.
    Google, if you’re listening – please calibrate your screens if you truly want them to reach their potential. Without this, no changes in the HAL will help.

    • SamLehman617

      The reason why Google calibrates their screens the way they do is because Nexus devices are meant for developers. The calibration on Nexus devices looks washed out because Google wants developers to be able to see an accurate representation of actual colors on their phone. The calibration makes the screen accurate. When doing color-oriented work, the calibration of other phones will screw up their color-accuracy and saturation. If Google decided to release a line of pure Android phones meant for consumers, they might go with a better-looking screen calibration.