Google Nexus 5-Camera App

Nokia’s Lumia 1020 smartphone supports RAW camera files, the type of pictures that are completely uncompressed and are favored by photographers for editing, and now Google may soon add support to Android for similar camera output.

According to some lines in public source code spotted by one sharp-eyed developer, Google is working on adding RAW image support to its Android code. While it was first spotted in an API that was started back in December of last year, it wasn’t added to Android 4.4 KitKat. Comments on the file suggest that the new camera API should be hidden because it is “not yet ready.”


“Full-capability devices allow for per-frame control of capture hardware and post-processing parameters at high frame rates,” the code also says. “They also provide output data at high resolution in uncompressed formats, in addition to compressed JPEG output.” That’s similar to how the Lumia 1020 can snap photos: it creates a single high-res uncompressed photo and another compressed file.

According to Ars Technica, other features inside of Google’s unreleased API includes face detection, burst mode and support for a “removable camera.” We’re not sure what that means, though perhaps it’s pointing at devices that could be sold to enterprise without the camera activated, similar to how BlackBerry used to sell phones without a camera module. Plenty of Android devices support burst mode and face detection, though these features aren’t native to vanilla Android Nexus devices.

Our best guess is these options will either land in the next version of Android or through a future update to the existing operating system.