Google Camera now available in the Play Store, brings Photo Spheres and Lens Blur

Google Camera now available in the Play Store, brings Photo Spheres and Lens Blur
We had heard a rumor recently that Google was preparing to release its own camera app into the Google Play Store. Today, Google has released the Google Camera into the Play Store, bringing a new UI and other nice features, though it doesn't seem to have everything that had been rumored, specifically it doesn't have hooks for 3rd party developers. However, it does offer pretty nice features overall.

The big addition compared to the stock camera apps that we've seen in Android is with a feature called "Lens Blur". The idea here is to allow anyone to take a picture with a nice bokeh effect, which is usually hard to do on a smartphone. The HTC One M8 has added a second camera to be able to offer this effect, but of course Google has found a software solution. The solution is actually quite simple: after taking a photo with a clear subject, just rotate the device upwards a bit and Google does the rest. It's not as simple as just tapping the shutter button, but it works well enough and means you don't need to buy a specific device just to get that. There's a cool writeup on how this feature was created at the Google Research Blog.

The other big feature in Google's camera is Photo Spheres. This was a feature that Google added to Android in 4.2, but many manufacturers (including the Google-owned Motorola) removed the feature from their camera apps. Now, as long as you can install the Google Camera (which does require Android 4.4), you can take Photo Spheres. Google has also improved the Panorama function with higher quality images. 

The UI changes aren't really all that big, and are really the worst part of the app. The different image modes (Photo Sphere, Pano, Lens Blur, Camera, and Video) are accessible with a swipe from the left, and the gallery is accessible with a swipe from the right, as usual. The trouble is that other functions like flash and switching to the front camera have been hidden in an overflow menu. And, extra controls are still painfully thin. This is a camera for quick shots and not much else. One nice addition to the UI is in the Video mode, if you are holding the phone in portrait mode, there is a continuous animation telling you to rotate the device to landscape, because there really is almost nothing worse than portrait-oriented videos. 

As mentioned, you need to have a device running Android 4.4 in order to get the Google Camera, so that limits its reach right now. 


Download: Google Camera

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39 Comments

38. DontHateOnS60

Posts: 872; Member since: Apr 20, 2009

iPhone users are the #1 offenders when it comes to portrait videos. Good luck telling them that they're doing it wrong...

35. taz89

Posts: 2014; Member since: May 03, 2011

Thus is why I prefer Android over any other platforms, for the most part you get key changes via play store or ply services like camera, keyboard, maps, play store, Android device manager etc etc where as if other platforms want to. Change ui or add new features it has to do a full of update or call. It a major release. Example rumors for ios8 include new siri Stuff, new maps, something to do with music player and google can update its equivalent apps like Google now, maps via play store and not call. It Android 5.0

33. Crossblade

Posts: 224; Member since: Apr 21, 2005

Finally high quality Panorama! The one until now was the most useless thing I have seen in recent years - not only low res (2mp) but also with very poor quality (colors, etc).

37. bestmvno

Posts: 251; Member since: Mar 07, 2014

I was happy about that too. Still need to work on stitching though. I get some weird shots from time to time where images dont quite align right.

31. kryme

Posts: 470; Member since: Oct 24, 2013

it wont install on GN with the lastest cyanogen build :-(

32. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

Google Spy Camera is not compatible with Cyanogen. Sorry.

36. bestmvno

Posts: 251; Member since: Mar 07, 2014

have you resolved this? What happens when you try and install? It installed fine on my N5 running PAC which uses a CM kernel

29. deathgod

Posts: 122; Member since: Nov 23, 2011

"This item is not available in your country"......Google really needs to make the playstore region-free or better yet include the caribbean in North America. I'm so tired of seeing that message and only being able to purchase (some) apps, and not movies/book/music etc.

27. baldilocks

Posts: 1555; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

Do NOT like the wasted screen space. I don't know who Google has designing apps and their UI lately, but they have NO sense of design.

25. bwhiting

Posts: 188; Member since: Jun 15, 2013

So far to me it actually is working out well. Not much issue on my end and actually looks a bit better for the interface than my Motorolo Ultra one that I already had on the phone.

24. 1ceTr0n

Posts: 549; Member since: May 20, 2012

No support for SD = completely useless. Sticking with sammy's

22. Liveitup

Posts: 1798; Member since: Jan 07, 2014

Sounds quite similar to Nokias camera app.

16. magnanimus

Posts: 566; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

I tipped PA and didn't even get an email :'(

13. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

My thoughts on this: -Has no burst shot -20 mp quality is fine(looks overall was just as nice as the stock Z1 camera) -no support for SD is a bummer -the photospheres get better stitching than before (compared to the APK) -new mode is cool (a bit hard to pull but really cool) -no HDR for non nexus (at least not the z1) -no taking pictures while recording a video Not bad for a first time, as it updates it will become better and better at it, I can see myself using it for regular shots

15. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

For camera-centric phones it's nothing special, but for camera-challenged phones like the Nexus 5 it's a Godsend.

19. magnanimus

Posts: 566; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

It's not meant to be professional. It's just a point and shot that will prove reliable in time of haste.

23. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

I'm not saying its bad, It will be updated faster than most cameras and will have a great performance on the long run

21. surethom

Posts: 1773; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

Do you have an option for 16:9 as on Nexus 5 there is NO option only 4:3 in 8mp, 3.1mp & 1.9mp. Very Poor, we need a 16:9 option at 6megapixel Google.....

26. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

no, or at least I haven't seen it

28. solidsnake695

Posts: 132; Member since: Jan 04, 2013

if u are experiencing grainy pics in the google app in 20.7 mp cuz its sonys algorithm is wrong if u see in details the iso is set at 800 all times in the Google app too thats cuz of faulty algorithm by sony

30. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

I don't think I said that, I said it was almost the same as the Z1 (witch improved a bit on shots since 4.4) took a night shot and liked the result on the Google camera better

9. jckc92

Posts: 29; Member since: Nov 28, 2012

Where is it located in the store??? I have a new Maxx phone from Motorola..Does it improve quality at all?

5. redbaronk12

Posts: 99; Member since: Dec 14, 2013

Loving the new UI on my Nexus 5. Much more intuitive.

14. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

What??? You mean you DIDN'T like having to press and hold to access the settings only to find out that it didn't work for some reason and you'd have to do it again???

4. surethom

Posts: 1773; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

Still missing the most important feature, aspect ratio, all the devices in the world are widescreen, so why STILL no 16:9 option, we NEED a 6megapixel 16:9 option for the nexus 5.

17. sprockkets

Posts: 1612; Member since: Jan 16, 2012

Most camera's aren't native widescreen, they are simply cropping. If you had the option to choose different ratios before it should still be available.

20. surethom

Posts: 1773; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

Hi yes i know that this is done with cropping & no the previous google native camera app did not have any option for cropping apart for a 2megapixel widescreen option which was useles There is no option in google camera for aspect ratio on the Nexus 5 just 3 Photo sizes all 4:3, cropping the picture is always best for showing on widescreen phones, tablets, laptops & widescreen tvs

34. MobileGuru

Posts: 82; Member since: Jan 18, 2014

That's why he said 6mp and not 8mp.

39. aboudo_o

Posts: 3; Member since: Dec 03, 2013

I have nexus 5 kitkat 4.4.3 and I have the latest camera version and I have the 16:9 option, it has been updated like a week ago.. you can find it in the options by sliding from left to right and you will be able to adjust the ratio.

3. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2282; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

Mine's been auto-updated. Much better than the previous app.

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