Google is working on new Android camera API with RAW output and face detection

Google is working on new Android camera API with RAW output and face detection
Google is working on a completely new Android camera application programming interface (API) that will bring support for uncompressed RAW image output and add neat new features like face detection, according to commits about the new API published earlier.

The information about this new camera interface comes from a commit dated October 11th, directing to hide the new API just around a month before the launch of Android 4.4 KitKat.


Google reasoned that the API is not yet ready, even though it seems that the initial plan was to bundle this with the KitKat release. The real scoop however hides in even earlier commits describing Google’s plans for the new Android camera API. A new API class "Android.hardware.photography" appears and in it are interesting descriptions: support for RAW files output, face detection and burst mode are all mentioned and if implemented right would be welcome additions.


RAW image file formats are well known to professional photographers. Unlike most smartphones nowaday that save images in compressed formats like JPEG, RAW output gives the full uncompressed image information resulting in a much larger file size, but also a file that allows much more headroom for post-processing.

The new face detection algorithms are also neat and will square people’s heads as well as give coordinates for the eyes and the mouth. Additionally, the system will also give each face a unique ID. We've earlier seen manufacturers like Samsung and HTC build face detection right in, but this will be a first-party Google solution and it seems to go to even greater lengths. Also, there will be a separate burst mode. Currently, you can only quickly press the capture button on the Android camera, but there is no single button that would fire a quick burst of shots.

This is not everything, though. Strangely, Google also lists support for a “removable camera.” We have already seen standalone camera accessories like the Sony QX10 for instance, but this could well turn out to be a strange wording for a camera accessory that you can pair and unpair, or remove. Or could this be a reference to a real removable camera component like the one envisioned by the now Motorola-backed Project ARA? We don’t know for sure just yet.


Full-capability devices allow for per-frame control of capture hardware and post-processing parameters at high frame rates. They also provide output data at high resolution in uncompressed formats, in addition to compressed JPEG output.

The new API is back-compatible with earlier devices and since work on it has allegedly started as early as December 2012 (with the initial plans for the software to get released in KitKat), we could expect to see it in the not so distant future.

source: Ars Technica, Josh Brown, Android Google Source

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10 Comments

1. jove39

Posts: 2147; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Exciting... May be in future release we'll see new camera app...for camera accessories...big ring around N5 camera is magnet...to attach removable lenses?

2. Shatter

Posts: 2036; Member since: May 29, 2013

It's assumed Google is going to sell some improved lenses for it eventually. Nokia brought a good mobile camera and Google is finally responding by fixing the camera api that limits androids camera capabilities. Maybe Sony around this time next year will have an android device that rivals nokias camera.

3. Sire3008

Posts: 87; Member since: Sep 26, 2013

Nokia had that first... Nokia always setting the pace in the mobile camera world. Go nokia

5. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

Dude wtf seriously? Using your logic, android has phablet first, and quad core , and more ram, and HD resolutions, and more other stuff

6. noler

Posts: 326; Member since: Aug 19, 2013

He said "in the mobile camera world" !!!

7. LoveHater

Posts: 234; Member since: Oct 09, 2013

more specifically "in the mobile camera world ONLY"

4. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

Yo Google my mates, release the damned Nexus 5 camera fix!

8. sergiobr

Posts: 718; Member since: Feb 25, 2013

I hate WP. Go google !

9. ZeroCide

Posts: 816; Member since: Jan 09, 2013

Gotta keep up with the Jones.

10. Ant34

Posts: 193; Member since: Aug 10, 2013

Why doesn't Google just borrow Samsung's or HTC's interface?

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