Google has made the Stock Android Camera application available on Google Play for everyone running Android 4.4 on their devices. This move comes days after HTC announced, most of its features of the HTC M8 such as Blinkfeed, Camera App etc would be available on Google Play so that updates could be released to individual features without having to wait for an entire OS update. Google has seemingly taken a similar route and this is an interesting move in the direction of providing uniform Google services to Android devices irrespective of the ODM and the skin implemented. This is not something new though, as Google had also made its Calendar app as well as Google Now Launcher available to download directly from the Play Store recently.
So, how is this application different from the other apps and on what devices would it work? Find out the answers here:
The Good about the Application
The best thing about the Google Camera application is that it is extremely simple with clean and minimal UI. The app has literally no lag and immediately fires up and takes you to the viewfinder. You have the option of activating grids too which can be really useful if you are into framing your shots symmetrically.
Since the application is now available as a standalone app, you would expect Google to add plenty of features to it as the time moves on, which could be interesting. You already have a feature called ‘Lens Blur’ in the application which helps you create artificial shots with blurred backgrounds so that the subject stays more in focus. Not just this, there is also an option of shooting your Panoramas in Higher Resolution now and the application prompts you to tilt your device to landscape in case you are in portrait mode and start taking videos. There are new bars that appear when you try to zoom which also indicate the orientation of your device and that is a neat little add-on. The various Photo Modes including Camera, Video, Lens Blur, Panorama and Photo Sphere are hidden by default and you have to swipe from the left side of the app to bring them up. You also have the option to turn on or off Manual Exposure in settings. Obviously, the fact that the app is free is a good thing too.
What’s Not to Like
Just like every app, not everything is rosy in the land of Google Camera. The application has done away with manual settings for White Balancing and there is no option of shooting photos in a 1:1 mode if you are an Instagram addict. The UI of the app although does rotate if you have Auto Screen Rotation on, it remains in Portrait mode only irrespective of the position if the Auto Rotation is off. This is a minor issue as most of the time, we have Auto Screen Rotation turned on. We would have certainly liked had the app rotated the controls irrespective of system settings.
There are no built-in filters in the app either yet, so it’s an extra step where you have to select the picture you have clicked, open it in Google’s Photo app and then apply filters. As much as we would have liked the Lens Blur feature to work, it’s simply too hit and miss at the moment. You need to select the ‘Lens Blur’ mode on the device, shoot the subject and then slightly move the device for it to capture the background that has to be blurred. More often than not the app does not either detect the motion or thinks that the motion was too fast to register, making the whole experience not all that smooth. There is still no burst mode in the app nor the option of a 120 fps slow mo recording or countdown timer.
Which Devices will the App work for now?
If you have an Android smartphone which is running the latest version of Android that is KitKat 4.4, you will be able to download the app from the Google Play Store. Once you have downloaded the app, you could use either the default camera app on your Android device or the Google Camera app.
Play Store: Download Google Camera App here