At Google I/O 2022, Google announced a host of new features that will improve the efficiency with which third-party apps like Snapchat, Instagram and others use camera and video functions on Android smartphones. The tech giant is also making significant changes to the camera functionality on Android 13 to ensure that output images replicate the preview you see before capturing that image.
Google has a significant advantage over its competitors when it comes to digital photography. In addition to leading the way with its line of Pixel smartphones that make extensive use of algorithmic enhancements to capture images with a quality often compared to professional cameras such as DSLRs, Google, as the creator and backer of Android, provides also a standard suite of tools to enable seamless integration. between software functions and camera hardware on a device.
Google’s Camera2 API and the CameraX Jetpack library act as a bridge between the camera hardware and third-party applications that use the camera. This includes allowing apps to use all cameras and functions such as using all rear camera sensors as one logical sensor to allow seamless switching between sensors to zoom in and out and use different functions features such as bokeh, noise removal, focus metering and exposure. compensation. The functionality, however, has been limited to images.
During the 2022 edition of its developer conference, Google announced Video capture in the CameraX Jetpack library. This means that any third-party app that supports the updated CameraX module will be able to use all rear cameras – instead of just the main camera – on an Android device.
For example, you will now be able to capture videos for your Instagram stories using the telephoto or ultra-wide camera on the smartphone, or even switch from telephoto to the main camera – or vice versa – between the capturing video. If your smartphone natively supports portrait video, you can also use this feature when recording videos using third-party apps. Likewise, any third-party camera app such as Cinema FV-5 will be able to use the full potential of a smartphone’s video capabilities.
Google aims to make up for the lack of manufacturers
Until now, Google has depended on manufacturers to embed CameraX vendor extensions on their devices for features like portrait or night mode. These extensions are highly customized by the manufacturers depending on the hardware per smartphone. CameraX allows these extensions to be used by apps other than the native camera app on any Android device without the developer of that app having to program each of these features separately.
Now Google is changing this approach and adding a layer of default Google Extensions. If a manufacturer doesn’t provide device-specific extensions, Google’s software implementation can override them and allow the camera’s most critical features to be used by other apps. More importantly, it will allow low-end devices to provide a better camera experience when used with apps like Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, etc.
In addition to general improvements to the way Android apps use camera features, Google is also adding specific features to improve camera functionality in Android 13. With the next version of Android, Google will improve the previews we see on apps from the camera. By using preview stabilization, Google aims to make output images consistent with previews so that there is minimal difference between what you saw before and what you got after capturing the image . This further eliminates the need to edit the photos later to achieve the desired results.
Android 13 will also try to synchronize the display frame rate and the camera preview frame rate to ensure that there is no stuttering or disparity between the preview and what the camera hardware is capturing at any given time. You will no longer have to worry about your images being different from what they looked like in the preview. To ensure a smooth and realistic preview, Google will improve the preview frame rate from 30 frames per second (fps) to 60 fps in camera mode to eliminate any jitter or lag.
HDR video support for supported devices
Finally, Android 13 will add support for in-camera HDR video apps and the CameraX library so that the stock camera app, as well as other third-party apps that use the cameras, can make use of HDR capabilities when of video recording. For this feature to be enabled, an Android device must support at least the HLG10 standard for HDR, as well as 10-bit camera capture. This feature will likely be limited to high-end devices such as the OnePlus 10 Pro or the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. Still, it’s a welcome step for HDR video capabilities for more devices in the future.