Google Proves Software Plays a Major Role in Camera Performance

November 26, 2013
By: Rory Lidstone

When Google’s (News - Alert) Nexus 5 hit the market late last month, it was widely acclaimed for providing high-end specs at a budget price — all in a nicely designed package. However, like every device, it isn’t perfect. The phone’s battery life and camera performance are two oft-cited issues with the phone. As for the former, there are a number of battery-saving tips out there, as for the latter, well, Google is working on it.

In fact, the software present on the Nexus 5 is a huge step forward for the stock Android (News - Alert) camera app. This is due to the fact that Android 4.4 KitKat brings with it a number of under-the-hood changes that bring enhanced overall performance as well as support for higher-end photography features, namely raw image formats and burst mode.

And this is just the start of Android’s camera improvements, said Gina Scigliano, Google’s Android communications manager who added, "Android's latest camera HAL (hardware abstraction layer) and framework supports raw and burst-mode photography. We will expose a developer API in a future release to expose more of the HAL functionality."

The release of an API means that Android’s new camera features will soon be readily available to any programmer that wants to use these abilities in his or her own software. The exciting part about this is that, even though hardware still matters quite a bit in determining the photographic quality and capabilities of a phone, a better software foundation does go a long way.

For proof of this, look no further than Google’s official response to complaints about the Nexus 5’s camera. The company says an upcoming software update will bring performance more in line with what one might expect from a high-end device. In the meantime, Nexus 5 owners should check out HDR (News - Alert)+ mode, which leverages burst photography — taking several photos in rapid succession — to piece together better images.

Edited by Ryan Sartor