Oct 31, 2020 | Updated: 09:48 PM EDT

Android Source Code Reveals New Camera Features

Nov 18, 2013 04:49 PM EST

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It looks like the reason for the Nexus 5’s somewhat underwhelming camera has finally been unearthed by an enterprising Android enthusiast and Google Glass Explorer. After presumably combing through thousands of lines of Android source code, which is available publically, John Brown posted to his Google+ account a developer comment seemingly alluding to the missing camera features promised earlier by Google exec Vic Gundotra:

“DO NOT MERGE: Hide new camera API. Not yet ready,” the comment read.

As reported by Ars Technica, it appears that Google was well into development on a new camera API for Android that would have debuted alongside Android KitKat and likely been offered on the Nexus 5. According to logs, development on the new API began in December 2012, but on October 11, about a month ahead of KitKat’s release, the API was removed from the Android source code.

So what would have been offered through the new API? New features include face detection and burst mode. The comments embedded with the source code offer a few additional hints.

“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.”

Unsurprisingly, the new API was to be backward compatible, while newer devices would be able to take advantage of an additional image format option.

“General RAW camera sensor image format, usually representing a single-channel Bayer-mosaic image. Each pixel color sample is stored with 16 bits of precision... The layout of the color mosaic, the maximum and minimum encoding values of the RAW pixel data, the color space of the image, and all other needed information to interpret a RAW sensor image must be queried from the {@link android.hardware.photography.CameraDevice} which produced the image.”

There are also some oddballs in the comments, particularly the following bit about a “removable camera.” Anyone remember the Motorola T720?

“The camera device is removable and has been disconnected from the Android device, or the camera service has shut down the connection due to a higher-priority access request for the camera device.”

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