Google Spokewoman Gina Scigliano has confirmed with CNET that Android is working on a brand new photo API that will support both RAW uncompressed photos and a native burst-mode. The new API is already implemented in lower levels and is currently being worked on, but it won’t to be fully released until a future Android update.
“Android’s latest camera HAL (hardware abstraction layer) and framework supports raw and burst-mode photography,” Scigliano said. “We will expose a developer API in a future release to expose more of the HAL functionality.”
Speculation about the Android camera supporting RAW photos has been floating around for a week, after a few lines in the public source code indicated that it could be possible.
Scigliano said that Google will be giving developers access to the API, allowing them to take advantage of the uncompressed RAW photo files with their own software. It is expected that far more powerful and professional photo editing apps will be created in the process, since RAW files allow greater levels of tweaking compared to compressed images, such as JPEGs. Burst-mode is already available on some phones, though it isn’t natively supported in Android.
When pressed on whether the update will help with the Nexus 5’s camera issues, Scigliano replied “The team is aware of the issues and is working on a software update that will be available shortly.” We don’t yet know if the RAW support will land in a major update, or if it will be included in a smaller patch to Android 4.4 KitKat.