Google has introduced a new camera API in the latest version of Android, codenamed “L”, which was unveiled on June 25 and which would be released towards the end of 2014.
The Google I/O developers’ conference took place at the end of June. The search giant has used this occasion to present the latest version of the Android operating system.
It is called Android L and Google has previewed its user interface changes, some new features, battery life improvements, and other enhancements that will generally improve the Android user experience.
One day after revealing Android L, on June 26, Google released a developer preview version of Android L along with the developer documentation. The latter part will help developers to update their applications and will give them a hint of the general direction of the OS.
Although it has not been given very much attention at Google I/O, it appears that Android L will come packed with a new camera API, that includes a number of surprises. Among them we can find native support for RAW DNG files.
RAW DNG file support coming to Android later this year, courtesy of the “L” update
The camera API of Android has reached version “2”, courtesy of the “L” update. The new code gives photography enthusiasts a true reason to buy an Android device because they are also getting manual exposure settings, beside RAW DNG support.
It is worth noting that not all Android devices will be capable of shooting RAW DNG files. However, those that will be compatible with these unprocessed files will allow users to correct exposure settings and to edit their shots like a true professional.
The DNG designation stands for Digital Negative. These are RAW files that need to be processed before being usable, just like film negatives also required to be processed before being printed.
Adobe and other companies making image processing software will have to update their programs to support RAW DNG files coming from Android devices.
Users will then be able to edit the files and to turn them into a better JPEG photo that the Android device would be capable of outputting.
Full manual camera controls to be added to Android L-powered devices
Google will release Android L later in 2014. In addition to RAW DNG file support, users will also get full manual control over the exposure settings, just like they already have on a dedicated camera.
As a result, Android smartphone and tablet owners will be able to manually set the shutter speed, the ISO sensitivity, the focus distance, the flash trigger, the exposure compensation, and the metering areas.
The list of supported settings continue with frame duration, color correction, Auto-Exposure and Auto White Balance lock, image stabilization, tonemap curve, and several autofocus modes.
This sounds very exciting and, to top it all off, Android L will also bring the ability to edit JPEG metadata and better support for HDR and a burst shot mode.
Most of these have been available for a while in high-end Windows Phone-powered Nokia Lumia smartphones, including RAW DNG support. Some say that this may be the final nail in the coffin of compact cameras. Well, we will see about that, so stay tuned!