The Camera2 API allowing applications to use the smartphone’s camera is finally evolving in order to take into account the specific software features integrated by the manufacturer. What finally allow applications like Instagram and Snapchat to match what is done on the iPhone.
It is common knowledge that if you want to become an influencer or influencer on Instagram, it is better to have an iPhone than an Android smartphone. This is a stupid API question that allows Apple’s phone to take full advantage of its camera capabilities where Android devices are much more limited. However, this problem should finally be fixed with Android 12.
The difference between Android and iOS
But before discussing this change, let’s concretely explain the problem of Instagram on Android. To make it (very) simple, when you take a photo with your smartphone, the light passes through the lens, then attaches to the sensor which converts everything into digital data which will be processed by the processor. On such a small device, the sensors are generally not extraordinary, but the computing power on board the phone allows many software improvements to be made during processing and gives the very satisfactory result that we know.
Over the generations, manufacturers have also proposed new modes that particularly modify the original photo to counterbalance the physical limitations of the camera. HDR, night mode, portrait mode, etc.
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The problem is, Android’s very design doesn’t allow third-party apps to access all of these software enhancements. An app like Instagram or Snapchat for example can only receive the raw rendering of the sensor and in turn attempt to improve it, which is generally much less effective than what the manufacturer offers natively since this is then based on only one image where native photo applications generally use several captures merged into one in order to retain as much information as possible. Conversely, on iOS, these applications exploit the full potential of the iPhone photo part.
Android 12 to the rescue
Fortunately, Google seems to finally take notice of this problem. As Android Central noted, Android 12 allows the camera2 API – allowing applications to access the camera – to access “device-specific algorithms and sequences that can improve the overall image quality of photos“. We can then imagine Instagram or Snapchat using the impressive portrait and night modes of the Pixel 5 for example.
This change could finally allow Android to become competitive for business users of certain third-party apps. Unless…
At the goodwill of the manufacturers
The problem with this change is that the availability of algorithms will be at the discretion of the manufacturers. So, if the brand wishes to keep its characteristics to praise the merits of its application, it may very well make its main improvements unavailable to third parties.
Still, it only takes a single influential manufacturer to take the first step for the others to follow. It would still be frowned upon to offer less extensive services than the competition on a social network as used as Instagram all the same …
The good news is that Samsung is already working with Instagram to offer better integration of the application into the system of its Galaxy. It only remains to hope that this API is quickly deployed on the various smartphones.