Google Working to Bring RAW Capability to Android Phones


Given the incredibly positive response Nokia got from the photo community when it announced that Lumia phones would soon be able to capture images in DNG RAW, it makes sense that operating systems other than Windows Phone would soon follow suit. Lo and behold, it seems Google is on the cusp of just such an announcement itself.

The news hit the Internet thanks to Android app developer Josh Brown, who noticed some code that seems to indicate RAW+JPEG capture capability is on its way, it just wasn’t ready for the KitKat release.

According to Ars Technica, Google began work on the API all the way back in December of last year, but about a month ago (around the time when companies put a stop to all new developments and switch gears to bug fixing ahead of a major release) work on the API was put on hold. What was in the code before it was put to a halt, however, is very exciting indeed:

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.

DNG RAW image samples released by Nokia had a lot of folks very excited about just how much post-processing potential was there.

DNG RAW image samples released by Nokia had a lot of folks very excited about just how much post-processing potential was there.

Other improvements found in the un-released API include support for burst mode, and face detection which can be used for everything from facial recognition to focusing. There’s also mention of built-in support for “removable” cameras — which has most people picturing the Sony QX10 and QX100 — but the wording is vague enough that we won’t speculate on that.

No word on when these improvements will finally reach Android phones, but it looks like nine months after Google’s Vic Gundotra asked users to “just wait and see” how awesome the cameras in Nexus phones were going to get, Google might finally be ready to deliver on those words.

(via Engadget)

  • op204

    Great Article. Thanks for posting. Possible misspelling. Is it Burst mode, or bust mode? Sorry for bringing this up on a public forum, but there seems to be no way to communicate with the writer via email on petapixel to let him know privately about misspellings. :/

  • DLCade

    No worries :) I’m human, I’m not ashamed of the occasional spelling mistake. Thank you for point it out!

  • DafOwen

    Don’t really see the point TBH – tiny sensor, poor lens, no aperture control.
    (relative to cameras)
    I wouldn’t say it’s like trying to polish a turd per-se but phones are largely only used for snaps.

  • clipper

    I can import & process my Canon *.CR2 raws already with RawDroid, with a OTG cable and USB card reader. (the link to the Playstore is there)

    And there are others too.

  • Renato Murakami

    Your turn Apple! Windows Phone and Android already announced it!

  • Mike

    What’s the point of raw when the sensor sucks anyway?

  • agk71

    THAANK YOU GOOGLE!! finally i can swap a compact for a phone cam :)

  • Ygor Oliveira

    Desculpa cara, salvei em PDF pra vocĂȘ ler : /

  • mansgame, man

    who says the sensor sucks? Size of the sensor aside, is it any worse than say a Nikon D40/Rebel XTI was as far as high ISO and dynamic range is concerned? Is it any worse than a canon G11? This sensor is at least as good as the iPhone’s sensor and 8 MP is plenty.

  • mansgame, man.

    Tiny sensor gives one massive amounts of depth of field which is actually desirable for many situations, especially since you don’t have control. I would welcome the ability to decide what parts of the picture to recover shadows in and to fix the white balance. I don’t always have my FX DSLR with me.

  • wilmark johnatty

    Hey Google, we know that graphics and design aint yur thing… so take some advice from a photographer – FIX THE LAME CAMERAS ON your NEXUS phones, before you give us raw. Guess what, RAW will not fix the lameness in a camera. Every single NEXUS phone has a camera that sucks, i hear the latest Nexus sucks even more in the camera department! A big ass company like you should have figured that out by now.

  • Yogabba Gabba

    Have you even seen the new camera? The software has a few issues but the camera itself is one of the best out there on a phone. And since you’re so smart (I mean you think you’re smarter than google), can you make a phone for $350 that has all the features that the N5 has and still make a profit? So smart. So soooo smart.

  • Antonio Carrasco

    Just having the option would be a major WIN…

    RAW should be turned off by default, because 99% of users won’t know what to do with it and it will eat up all their storage. But having the option, would be really cool.

    Also it never hurts to put technology in peoples’ hands and see what they do with it. You never know how features will be used until you see people doing all sorts of crazy things with it

  • Antonio Carrasco

    being able to change the white balance after shooting is enough to justify it. Most cameras set white balance for you and they don’t do such a good job

  • DafOwen

    A valid point.

  • wilmark johnatty

    Thats not what I read in all the N5 reviews – they all say its still lame as ever. I wont go into the ad homenim crap except that what kind of dweeb of a fanboy uses a name featured in a Google now vs Siri comparison of two freaking years ago??… ha ha ha

  • jtreyes

    you are obviously an apple fanboy/girl?. haha. the siri technology has been in Android even before Apple released it. And you’re going off topic now. The discussion is about bringing RAW capability to android devices.

  • wilmark johnatty

    I made my point about the technology – and within my expertise, you went off topic. Ive never owned an apple product in my life – my current phone is the G Nex and I wont be upgrading because as a photographer. Iphone appears to be better for taking photos but its too expensive and i dislike the aged interface. I wont buy the N5 cuz all i’ll be getting are minor cosmetic refinements and some more cpu, besides it appears that there is some performance to be had with the GN + Kit Kat. I want Google to know i’m disappointed about their photo performance.

  • Jon Woodbury

    THAT’S the point. You can get more out of it shooting raw so it actually helps when the sensor sucks.

  • Paul Andrew

    Wouldn’t be a lot of point unless there was in-camera/ in-phone RAW processing. Which brings one onto the question why there is no RAW processing app, even a basic one, for Android. Really don’t see why my Nexus with quad core can’t handle some simple RAW conversions when many of my cameras now can.

  • David Portass

    Cool but I’d just like a camera app with full manual settings, the S4 mini camera app is pretty pants and while I’ve tried a few free and trial ones, none seam to offer the simplicity of the Nokia app, unless I’ve been looking in the wrong places.

  • MarvinB7

    I’m interested in a better camera app. Is there one you recommend that can be had for most Android phones? I’ve seen SO many that I have not tried any. Too deep of a pile. ;)