This article was first published on: Apr 18, 2014.
For any smartphone user, no matter which mobile OS you are on, the camera app is one of the more oft-used apps. Many of us opt for third-party camera apps because they are more solidly built than what the stock apps have to offer. But now, Android users may want to reconsider trying out the new and improved Google camera app, just released in the Play Store. If you cannot download the app via Play Store, download the APK file directly here.
It’s better, sleekier and has a few pretty cool feaures you would want to try out, like Lens Blur and Photo Sphere. And better yet the official Google Camera app is no longer confined to Nexus and GPE (Google Play Experience) devices only. You can run it on any Android device running KitKat 4.4 and above.
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New & Upgraded Features
The previous stock Camera was found wanting both in design and functionality, so this new Camera app is definitely a long-awaited improvement. Most of the app functions as a typical in-built camera app but what distinguishes this new revamped app from the previous version is the updated Photo Sphere and the new Lens Blur function. Let’s check out what this app has to offer.
Lens Blur is finally here, a feature that allows your device camera to focus on a target while having the background blurred out. This is a common feature found on Single-Lens Reflex (SLR/DLSR) cameras, and it’s now available via this app.
In Lens Blur mode, you just have to shoot the subject, then slowly raise the device while keeping the subject in the center of the frame. The app will help guide you through the process with on-screen instructions.
You can adjust the blur level after you have captured the shot. The blur level will only focus on blurring the blackground, not the subject. That will happen as long as the camera can tell the difference between your subject and the background.
This one is an app that will give the panorama mode a run for its money. It’s far from a new feature but you’ll definitely love playing around with it once you get the hang of it.
The moment you fire up Photo Sphere, you will notice 4 dots on the four sides, left, ride, up and down, after you make a snapshot. These dots are there to help you focus your device camera to create the perfect Photo Sphere. Shift your camera to align with the dots and the app will help you stitch the images together. How far can you go with this? A full 360 degrees!
There’s more, the new Photo Sphere can now capture up to 50 megapixels, providing more details in your photo sphere picture. Here is an example.
There are a few other minor tweaks to some of the other features, namely:
Improved Panaroma – The newly improved Panaroma mode, allows you to capture the full width of a scene in higher detail.
Google Says No To Vertical Video – Don’t you hate it when you take a video that ends up in the wrong orientation? Unlike photos, videos can’t be rotated just as easily. This Camera app will remind you to rotate the device when you try to capture a video in vertical mode.
Better Interface – Did the previous Camera app frustrate you with its interface? Fret no more. Features are now labeled properly, taking out most of the guesswork. Instead of the old sliding arc controls, the Camera features are now presented nicely in a menu by swiping to the right and by tapping on the menu button at the bottom right.
Like any other app, there are still a few drawbacks to this app. For instance, when taking a photo in Lens Blur mode, your photo will be automatically reduced to around 1024×768 resolution – the image quality will take a hit.
But if you need more motivation to try this app out, know that the Android Police have torn down the APK and found out that in the near future, Google will update the app to include Photo Sphere Live Wallpaper, Advanced Camera, Time Lapse, Wide Angle Mode, and much more.