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The launch of Cyanogen Mod Inc took most in the Android world a little by surprise, there’s been some back and forth with developers and one consequences of the Mod going ‘mainstream’ is that the developers behind the AOSP Camera replacement – Focal – have decided to remove the app from Cyanogen Mod and have now released it to Google Play.

Guillaume Lesniak, the developer behind Focal, took to Google+ yesterday and expounded some of the goings on behind the launch of Cyanogen Mod Inc. He describes some hesitation behind the decision by the CM project leads to re-license Focal as a non-General Public License(GPL) app which would give them options to add some vendor specific hardware features as CM Inc went forward and was adopted by Hardware vendors.

After a bit of back and forth behind the scenes, the decision was made to pull the app from Cyanogen Mod and it’s now available in Google Play. It’s named as Focal (Beta) indicating that it’s still a work in progress – as evidenced by the feature list in the Apps Play store description :

  • A photo and video mode, supporting many features (burst mode, timer mode, scene mode, shutter speed on Sony devices, …).
  • A panorama mode, currently semi-broken.
  • A PicSphere mode, open-source replacement of Google’s PhotoSphere, to do 360° sphere shots.
  • A review drawer, by sliding from the top of the screen (in portrait). It shows your latest pictures.

The app itself is actually quite good and extremely usable – tested on my Nexus 4 only at this stage – with further work on the app being promised. Focal is fully Open Source, with the full source available under GPL from GitHub, where updates and commits are welcome. As laid out in the description the Guillaume asks if you have issues, instead of giving the app a 1-star rating, raise the issue with him on Twitter or better yet fix it, if you’re a developer.

The reasons behind the removal of Focal from CM are actually quite interesting and I encourage anyone at all interested to head over to Guillaumes Google+ page and read his entire post. It seems the transition to an incorporated company is not sitting well with all the developers who’ve contributed to Cyanogen Mod over the years for free and are now seeing their work monetised with no recompense offered.

Either way, the camera app is the focus here and quite frankly if Google were to pick this app up and work to fix the bugs and include it in Android as the default Camera App, I wouldn’t be seen to argue at all.

What do you think of the Focal (Beta) Camera App?

Source: Focal - Google Play, and Guillaume Lesniak.