Nov 12 AT 12:52 PM Nick Sarafolean 32 Comments

KitKat should have included camera optimizations

Nexus 5 Camera

A longtime sore spot of Android devices has been the camera. For years now, people have lamented the fact that the images produced by Android devices haven’t quite stood up to some of their competitors. Don’t get me wrong, I think that what Google did with KitKat is great. The optimizations for lower-end devices without much RAM are something that will be extremely beneficial to the operating system. But the chink in the armor of Android devices has long been the camera experience. Even the new Google Play editions of devices have had the same camera problems. But now that we’ve just been introduced to the 14th (unless you count some of the really incremental updates) version of Android, it’s high time that Google worked on some camera optimizations.

The camera experience problem certainly isn’t with the hardware. We’ve seen the same hardware capture incredible shots on devices that run a skinned version of Android. The problem comes with the software. More specifically, with stock Android.

Simply put, the camera software isn’t optimized and tailored for the best quality. Granted, this is certainly no easy task. On the other hand, it’s one that could greatly improve the Android experience for many. As the saying goes, “The best camera is the one that you have with you.” We all know that’s not really true, but with smartphones being the prevailing way to take pictures, we want them to be of decent quality.

If you buy an Android device with a manufacturer overlay on it, then you’re most likely going to get some sort of camera optimizations. If you’re buying from the big two manufacturers, Samsung and HTC, then you’re going to get something that’s drastically different from the stock Android camera. Generally, that’s a good thing. You’re going to get lots of frills, but you’re also going to get a vastly improved camera experience. Pictures will be sharper and more vivid and you’ll have more options for special types of pictures.

Comparatively, the camera experience on stock Android is rather Plain Jane. Even the best pictures generally exude a feeling of “Good, not great.” Things won’t be horrendous, but they’re not going to wow anyone. Special camera effects will be kept to a minimum with Photo Spheres being the main special effect. Even those are only available on Nexus devices.

In a perfect world, Google would have sorted out some of these issues by now. Unfortunately, the world is far from perfect and Google hasn’t really done much to solve this problem. While we all hoped that KitKat might include some new camera features, not much has changed on that front. The same plain camera experience is there on the Nexus 5 with KitKat. We’re willing to put our money on the fact the GPe Galaxy S 4 and HTC One will also have the same mediocre camera experience. And once again, we can pin the problem not on the hardware, but on the software.

But it’s time to hand off the mic to you fine guys and gals. What do you think of the camera experience on Android? Am I off my rocker or am I onto something? You know what to do with those comments.

A nerd at heart, Nick is an average person who has a passion for all things electronic. When not spending his time writing about the latest gadgets, Nick enjoys reading, dabbling in photography, and experimenting with anything and everything coffee. Should you wish to know more about him, you can follow him on Twitter @Zricon15.

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