Every Android user has at some stage commented on the camera and the features…or lack thereof in Android, but Google is apparently listening and is working on improving the quality of the native Camera API included in Android to include access to some pretty neat features, mainly to do with RAW capture and burst-mode.
Gina Scigliano, Android Communications Manager at Google, spoke to CNet about the updates which are actually supported already in the Hardware Abstraction Layer(HAL) in Android but are not yet accesible by the software side of things, at least by third parties. Ms Scigliano said of the new improvements
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.
Burst Mode is already in use in KitKat with HDR+ mode. HDR+ mode allows for a quick burst of images to be taken with different settings, before being merged into a single ‘best of’ shot, similar to what Bracketing can do on an SLR. and it’s the burst mode side of things, which is seemingly the core of the idea on improving the picture taking side of Android with Ms Scigliano commenting
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.
The API that will eventually be released will allow developers to directly incorporate the features into their own software but more importantly for Nexus device owners, they could see Vic Gundottra’s comment from earlier this year – ‘We are committed to making Nexus phones insanely great cameras. Just you wait and see.’ – finally come true, with Ms Scigliano alluding to the team at Google are looking at feedback received on the Nexus 5 camera and advising
The team is aware of the issues and is working on a software update that will be available shortly.
While the API is still not ready for release and there is no release schedule with Google only advising that it will come ‘in a future release’. An incoming update that will improve camera functionality? Yes Please! Although all I can say is, I would rather wait longer for an ‘Insanely Great’ camera than to see a half baked solution, maybe Google should speak to Jishnu Sur over on XDA before releasing anything, either way, Google does seem to be pretty solid on their commitment to improving camera quality, it just remains to be seen if they can deliver.