Shelved Android Code Hints That Way Better Camera Apps Are Coming

Android has come a long way as a platform in the last couple of years, but one drawback of the phones is that for the most part their cameras lag behind what's available for Windows Phone and iOS ). A batch of comments discovered in the Android source code hints that the cameras might be getting a lot better soon.

The Android documentation hints at a new Camera API for the platform. It was discovered by enterprising Google+ user Josh Brown and initially reported by Ars Technica. In short, it appears that Google started working on a new API to be launched with KitKat but that it couldn't be completed in time, so an entry was added the documentation hiding it it from the final product.

The most intriguing part of the new API, some of which is documented here, is that it appears the camera application will be able to access RAW image sensor data rather than merely data that's already been processed to JPEG. Beyond letting you write RAW files to your phone's flash memory so that you can edit them later in programs like Adobe Lightroom, the RAW camera support opens the door for more sophisticated on-board editing, as well as new, better processing developed by third parties. There are also signs of a burst mode in the offing, something that it's always surprising to remember Android doesn't already have by now.

RAW files on a camera certainly isn't a new idea. Earlier this Fall, Nokia announced that it's building RAW support into its Pro Camera app. Still, adding it to Android—with its much larger user base—would be a huge deal. [Google via Google+ via Ars Technica]