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Nov 18, 2013

New API to Bring Camera RAW to Android Devices

Soon, Android might be able to enjoy brand new camera capabilities on their devices, including support for Camera RAW, the latest reports on the matter suggest.

Apparently, Google has been working on enhancing the camera capabilities of the OS for quite some time now, and was even ready to bring said improvements to Android 4.4 KitKat, but opted out of this at the last minute. However, the company has been working on new camera API for the platform since December 2012, and might arrive in the not-too-distant future. As Arstechnica found in the commit for the feature, a new API class called “Android.hardware.photography” was planned for Android, capable of delivering brand new functionality to users. “Full-capability devices allow for per-frame control of capture hardware and post-processing parameters at high frame rates. They also provide output data at high resolution in uncompressed formats, in addition to compressed JPEG output,” the documentation about the new camera unveils.

Apparently, the new Camera API would arrive on older devices as well, though only newer, more capable handsets and tablets would be able to take full advantage of its features. One of these capabilities would be camera RAW, which is not listed as available for Jelly Bean devices, though should be available for KitKat products. “General RAW camera sensor image format, usually representing a single-channel Bayer-mosaic image. Each pixel color sample is stored with 16 bits of precision,” said documentation unveils. Having images saved in RAW rather than JPEG means that users will enjoy increased flexibility when it comes to post-processing, given that information is almost uncompressed and unprocessed.

The new API would also bring along support for a burst mode, as well as for face detection. Furthermore, mentions of a removable camera were also found, though it remains to be seen what exactly this feature is all about. No specific info on when we might see the new API and camera capabilities included in Android has been provided as of now, but Google did promise several months ago that better cameras would be available on Nexus smartphones, so stay tuned for more on this.

Google to release new camera API on Android, bringing camera RAW to devices
Image credits to Google


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