When it comes to smartphone photography, even the most casual observer will have noticed a recurring theme: software is really important. The established leader in this field is the Google Camera app designed for Pixel phones.
Thanks to Android’s modding community, Google Camera is now much more widely available. The app is ready to take advantage of every feature of your camera and brings the most advanced image processing technologies to your phone.
Here’s how to get Google Camera on your phone.
What is Google Camera?
Google Camera is a camera app that first came to light in 2014 with the launch of Google’s first Pixel phone. While the Pixel devices do not have the most advanced camera hardware you would see on other smartphones, they are known to deliver some of the best mobile photos.
This demonstrates the need for software to use every bit from the camera of a phone. By replacing your camera’s built-in app, you can use Google Camera’s advanced features to dramatically upgrade the quality of your phone’s image output.
Otherwise, known as Google Camera Mod or GCam, the app will make your smartphone’s camera work like never before.
What makes GCam so good?
Are the features of Google Camera advanced enough to replace your stock camera app? Definitely! Not only will you see an improvement in image quality, but you will also expand the range of options for taking and manipulating images.
The following features make Google Camera so great to have:
- Slow action: Record video at 120 or 240 frames per second (fps), depending on your phone’s capability. An ideal solution for creating videos that show the detail of the movement, filling it with the potential to go viral.
- Motion pictures: If you combine the movement of a three-second video with the optical image stabilization (OIS) and the gyroscope of the phone, you can create selfless videos.
- Lansvervaag: This feature, designed primarily for portrait shooting, blurs the background and emphasizes and enhances the object in front and in the center.
- HDR +: Using smart exposure times wisely while taking a series of photos reduces HDR + blur, image noise and increases dynamic range. The app effectively captures the sharpest image, algorithmically enhances it by processing every single pixel, and selects the color that matches the average in the camera. Among many benefits, HDR + enhances photos in low light.
- Smart eruption: If the Google Camera is installed, you can take about ten pictures per second on your phone by holding the shutter button. When the button is released, the app will automatically select the best photo from the set. This is an excellent feature to have if you want to eliminate photos of people with closed eyes!
- Video stabilization: Using both EIA and digital video stabilization, the app processes video clips to remove artifacts from the shutter distortion, and corrects them for focus. As a result, you can create pleasantly smooth videos that will not irritate people if you share them on social media.
- Panorama: Most cameras have a panorama feature, but GCam is better than most. The Google camera is also not limited by degrees or angles. Allows you to take panoramic shots vertically, horizontally, and wide-angle over the entire 360-degree view.
Some phones already have some of these features, but Google Camera delivers unmatched results in almost every area. It even upgrades basic shots, thanks to the HDR and poor performance.
Comparing Google Camera to Stock Camera
If the features of the Google Camera are out of order, we can see how it translates in practice compared to your built-in camera app.
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You get better exposure, more detail and cleaner shots. It’s worth replacing your standard camera program with Google Camera. Fortunately, the effort is not too demanding.
How to install Google Camera
For a smooth transition from the standard camera application to Google Camera, it’s about the compatibility of your phone.
What are the prerequisites?
The list of gateway hub XDA developers will continue to be updated, so all is not lost if your Android phone is not on the list. To make sure your phone is even a potential candidate to install Google Camera, it should support the Camera2 API.
The Camera2 API gives developers access to your phone’s camera capabilities to push every last bit of control over its lens, flash per individual frame, shutter speed, autofocus, RAW recording, HDR +, OIS and camera sensor.
Although Camera2 API started with Android 5.0 Lollipop version, it is likely that Android 7.1.1 and higher is compatible. To make sure your phone has it, simply install the free Camera2 API Probe app in the Google Play Store.
The app is as simple as it gets. After opening it, the first screen you will see is the list of your phone’s compatibility for Camera2API:
The hardware support level section is the most important piece. It contains compatibility for your rear and front cameras. Here’s what the four levels mean:
- LEGACY: Support for Camera1 API only, which means that if you’re the only green checkmark, you can not use Google Camera on your phone.
- RESTRICT: Support for a narrow range of Camera2 API features.
- FULL: Support for all important Camera2 API features.
- VLAK_3: Additional support for YUV processing, RAW imaging, and additional output stream options.
With higher levels, you are ready for the installation process once your Camera2 API is enabled.
If not, you will need to root your phone and edit the build.prop file with BuildProp Editor. However, it is much more advanced and beyond the scope of this guide.
The installation process itself
Once the compatibility issues are sorted, the first step is to go to the Google Camera Port Hub and see if the GCam port is available for your device. Among the dozens of models supported, all are neatly arranged by the manufacturer in alphabetical order, from Asus to Xiaomi.
To make your search easier, follow these steps:
Tap the three-dot icon menu in the upper right corner of your web browser.
Choose the Find in page option.
Enter the model of your Android phone. As you type it, the available results are highlighted.
The alternative to the above Google Camera Port hub is this alternative GCam Hub. Both hubs offer a list of APK files that you can download to your phone. When you tap on the APK download file, you will see a warning screen and it needs to be confirmed.
Of course we know what such a file does, and so we want to type OK. Next go to Settings> Security and enables it to install applications from Unknown sources.
Finally, select the APK file that you downloaded with a good file manager and select the APK file for installation to proceed.
You should be set up now and ready to start exploring the wonders of GCam.
Consider typing in the Google Camera source
GCam is an easy way to squeeze more out of your existing smartphone camera. If you are not happy with the shots you get, it is worth investigating.
If your Android phone is not yet supported, or is too old to ever be supported due to the Camera2 API requirement, you may want to consider switching to a Pixel the next time you upgrade your phone. In such a scenario, you will benefit from the maximum hardware and software compatibility, with all the latest features that the internet giant can provide.
Or in the meantime, there are many other amazing Android camera apps that you can try.
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