It appears that Google is working on a number of enhancements for the default Android camera app. Among new features we could see in the near future are a burst mode, improved face detection and support for the RAW format. The notes with the initial code commit indicates the following are planned:
Full-capability devices allow for per-frame control of capture hardware and post-processing parameters at high frame rates. They also provide output data at high resolution in uncompressed formats, in addition to compressed JPEG output.
First spotted by Josh Brown on Google+ and looked into further by Ars Technica, it appears that Google started work on this new Android camera API in late 2012. A month before KitKat’s release, Google pulled it from the release with the notes:
DO NOT MERGE: Hide new camera API.
Not yet ready.
This would suggest that the plan was to include the new camera API in KitKat but that developers simply ran out of time completing the features and fixing all the bugs. Let’s hope that work continues on it and that it will be part of a release in the none too distant future.
The documentation also speaks about a removable camera, a feature yet to be seen on Android devices. Could it be a hint about a future device? Here is the description:
The camera device is removable and has been disconnected from the Android device, or the camera service has shut down the connection due to a higher-priority access request for the camera device.
With the code documentation promising “substantially improved capabilities” and “fine-grain control,” Google needs to bring an improved camera not only to its Nexus devices but to Android devices as a whole. It’s competition is not sleeping and the gap will only widen as time goes on.