It was widely expected that with the Nexus 5, Google would finally deliver on its promise of releasing a Nexus device with a top-notch camera. Sadly, that did not happen as the Nexus 5 camera has met with mediocre reviews from reviewers and users alike.
One major contributing factor towards the poor camera performance is the stock camera app in Android. With Android 4.3, Google tweaked the UI of the camera app slightly but overall, the app remains a mess to use. Not only is the camera app slow to focus on Android 4.4 KitKat, it takes an unnecessarily long amount of time to switch between the normal and HDR+ mode. There were a few rumors that Google would be releasing a revamped Camera app with new API in KitKat, but sadly that plan did not materialize.
Now, the folks over at Ars Technica have managed to gather some information about this new Camera API for Android that was supposed to be released with KitKat. The new API brings with it quite a lot of advanced features like the support for RAW images, per-frame control of the capture hardware, face detection with unique IDs for each face and burst mode. Commits suggest that Google started working on the new Camera API since December 2012, but had to pull the API from Android’s framework a month before KitKat’s release. This was possibly done because the API was not yet ready before the feature freeze for KitKat’s impending release.
Android phones have always lagged behind the iPhone in the image quality even with top-notch camera hardware. Maybe, it was always due to the poor underlying APIs, which limited the full hardware to completely flex its muscle. The commits linked above do show promise that Google is all set to fix Android’s poor imaging capabilities once and for all. Perhaps, down the line the company will release an update for the Nexus 5, that will improve the camera performance of the device.