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Google confirms future RAW photo support for Android

Android phones are capable of taking such truly great photos, but one thing that’s been missing from handsets so far is the ability to take RAW photos. That will soon change, according to CNET, who has confirmed with Google that RAW image support for pictures taken with Android devices is on the way.

Support for RAW images has been built into Android’s hardware abstraction layer, otherwise known as HAL. “Android’s latest camera HAL (hardware abstraction layer) and framework supports raw and burst-mode photography,” says Gina Scigliano, a spokesperson for Google. “We will expose a developer API [application programming interface] in a future release to expose more of the HAL functionality.”

Image credit: etnyk

Right now, Android manufacturers need to build in their own burst mode option, but Google’s changes to Android mean that a simple API will expose the mode to anyone who wants to take advantage of it. RAW photo support is also a nice addition. Photos taken on Android devices are saved using JPEG compression, which can lead to some loss of information. RAW photos, on the other hand, retain all information picked up by the camera in exchange for a much larger file size.

Still, RAW photos would allow budding mobile photographers to tweak the colours or contrast of their photos without doing too much damage. The new APIs could even mean that RAW editing tools will soon make an appearance on Android.

Nokia is the only manufacturer right now offering the ability to take RAW pictures on its smartphones. It’s a great option for anyone using the 41-megapixel Lumia 1020, for instance, but Android handsets may be capable of the same feat sooner rather than later.

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