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Google Camera app launches, brings background defocus to the masses

Google Camera pp iconThe latest flagship smartphones have some spectacular camera features, but Google’s decided to even up the playing field.

Available as a free download from the Play Store for 4.4 KitKat devices, the new Google Camera app revamps the old photography experience offered up by the stock Android camera and adds a number of new features more commonplace on select high-end handsets.

As part of the new interface, it looks as though Google has taken a leaf out of Motorola’s book, with most of the camera’s main settings hidden off screen, a swipe from the left edge revealing the five main modes.

Photo Sphere, as we’ve seen on Nexus handsets, lets you stitch a spherical net of photos together to view in the round using the phone’s gyroscope or some on-screen swipes to navigate. Next up is Panorama mode that, as you’d expect, lets you stitch a horizontal line of photos together for some super wide panoramic goodness.

Google Camera

Lens Blur is the most notable addition. As we’ve seen from the Nokia Refocus app, the Samsung Galaxy S5, the Sony Xperia Z2 and the HTC One (M8)’s new Duo Camera, adding background blur for that more professional look has become a popular feature in mobile photography of late.

The Lens Blur mode requires that you take a shot and drag the camera upwards in the air slightly so that it can distinguish subjects between the foreground and background. It then separates out the layers and applies a pretty convincing background blur, as if your shots have been taken on a more serious camera.

The standard camera is penultimate option in the list, with a skimmed down list of key settings such as grid view, HDR, flash mode and front camera, with control over resolution and location data in a standalone menu and a large shutter button taking up a significant portion of the frame.

Lens blur offLens Blur on

Video is the last option on the list and uses the same settings menu for resolution control and so on. On the whole this feels like a more robust camera app than its predecessor and although it could be a little more polished, it’s as if Google is working towards something new, a new design direction for Android perhaps?

Let us know what you think about the new Google Camera app and tell us what you use your smartphone’s camera for most, footstagrams, selfies, panos?


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