Earlier today, Google released a dedicated camera app into the Play Store. This would have been news on its own, as this method of distribution allows for camera updates without having to wait for a new firmware to come along. But the goodies didn't stop there. Google has completely redesigned the app, and while your opinion may vary, here's mine - it's better.

Why, You Ask?

For starters, there's a new lens blur effect that I've already elaborated on in great detail. It's a great new feature that I'd consider worth downloading the app for all on its own, even with its unfortunate side effect of shrinking down photos to either 1024x768 or 2048x1536 (depending on whether it's set to low or high). While this may be the only new feature per se, the rest of the changes are even better.


What Else Is New?

The previous camera app was decidedly minimalist. By default, all it showed was a shutter button flanked by two white icons. To access deeper functionality, users were required to swipe up on the screen to display an arc of unlabeled icons. Swiping farther revealed another arc. The only thing I've found more frustrating than navigating this menu was trying to take a picture of myself navigating this menu.

Camera1 Camera2 Camera3

Now the app is no less minimalist (perhaps even more so), but the interface is entirely intuitive to navigate. For starters, all you see on screen is a big fat shutter bar - yes, an entire bar - and a menu button.


That massive bar helps mold the viewfinder into the proper shape for the Nexus 5 (though this app is not exclusive to Nexus or Google Play Edition devices), so what you see on the screen should finally match the photo that you get.

To start recording video, take a panorama shot, create a photo sphere, or try out the new lens blur effect, you swipe in from the left. How do you know to do this? Because the icons are momentarily present every time you fire up the app, giving you ample time to watch them hastily retreat to the side of the screen.

Camera5 Camera6


The menu button pulls up a list of icons next to the shutter bar. The available options change according to whichever mode you're in.

Camera8 Camera9 Camera10

Panoramas and photo spheres are still the same features that they were before (though the former now takes shots in a higher resolution, and the latter has made the jump all the way to 50MP), but Google has tweaked the app to make creating them a more similar process. Now taking a panorama shot will require lining the camera up with dots the same way making a photo sphere does.

Camera11 Camera12

Panorama, left. Photo sphere, right.

You can reach the app settings by hitting the cog icon that appears when you've swiped in from the left. There aren't many options there, but you can set image resolution for regular shots, panoramas, photo spheres, and lens blurs (and you're probably going to want to, because the default resolution's pretty low for that last one).

Camera13 Camera14 Camera15

Camera18 Camera16 Camera17

The option to tweaking exposure levels manually has been tucked away under the app settings, with the toggle visible in the top-right screenshots above. Once enabled, it appears alongside the other camera options.

Camera19 Camera20

Oh, and Google really doesn't want you to record vertical videos anymore. But it will still let you if you must insist.

What's Gone?

Most of the functionality has returned, but some features are still buried within the APK, hopefully waiting to resurface at a later date. This includes the countdown, time lapse, and white balance settings.

Final Thoughts

The new camera app may not be as sleek as the old one, but it's umpteen times more usable. Not everything has made the transition to the first iteration of this new app, but the essentials are present, and they're more accessible than before. Not only that, the app is installable on any Android device running Android 4.4. That's quite a bit to get excited about.

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • http://meatcastle.com/ Youre My Boy Bloo

    Is anyone else having issues installing this app? I can't get it on my LG G2.

    • vyktorsouza

      my only problem is that it's not showing up as installed on GPlay even tho it is and updated too

    • Benito Wood

      Is your G2 running KitKat?

  • darkdude1

    Personally, I think more apps should be put into the play store, here's to hoping this is the start of a trend.

    • Sean Thomas

      it's already a continuation of a trend from many years ago, but yeah. basically all that's left is the dialer, people, gallery, settings, clock, calculator, and news & weather. Not that you even need news & weather with google Now but it's still an app that's not in the store.

    • David Thoren

      This is far from the "start" of a trend.. it's a continuation. See Google Calendar, Google Keyboard, Google Hangouts (replaced SMS), Google Photos (gallery replacement).... need I go on?

  • Richard

    Did Google take out face detection?

  • rmkilc

    This update is MUCH more sleek than the previous KitKat camera.

    • abqnm

      And I hope all OEMs include the nagging icon telling you to take horizontal videos because the world hates watching vertical videos yet so many people still record them.

      • Braden Abbott

        Yeah I thought that was a great public service they did us all when I saw that haha

      • http://www.bloodflame.com/ Patrick

        The nag is a good idea, but it could be better. IMO, the camera should absolutely force horizontal filming. Vertical videos started plaguing the internet a few short years ago, and it's continuously getting worse and worse.

        There should be some sort of global agreement made between mobile OS creators, device makers, carriers, and anyone else who has the power to influence software features on our phones, including developers of other third-party camera apps in each OS's respective marketplaces. They should all agree to force the prevention of vertical filming for the greater good of users everywhere.

        Sure, there will be some people who will bitch about it (for whatever lame reason), but they'll be quick to forget about it and carry on with their lives. In the end, we'll all be able to enjoy watching videos with a proper aspect ratio.

        There's already a third-party app which uses the accelerometer and/or gyroscope to detect the angle of the phone, and crops/rotates the screen accordingly for perfectly horizontal videos. I can't recall the name of this app, or even if this was for Android - however I do seem to recall the app being developed for iOS, with plans for an Android release later on, but I could be wrong. There was a demo video showing how the phone could be rotated, and a recording rectangle on the screen would counter the rotation.

        While such a concept seems amazing, it does come with it's limitations. As a photographer, I could certainly see the need for various angles to be employed while filming, but when it comes right down to it, the people who would require such functionality should already own a dedicated camera for the purpose of filming. When it comes to quick mobile videos, I think it's a fantastic idea.

        • Harnorizer Mbuta

          Calm down brah, it's just vertical videos not world war three.

  • Mikeb3ll

    "You can even change the subject in focus after taking the shot."

    I am digging the updated camera but I cannot figure out how to change this after taking the shot.

    • rmkilc

      Slide to the right after taking the shot. Then hit the lens blur icon at the bottom.

      • Mikeb3ll


        I was accessing and trying from the gallery which does not work.

  • 16bitz0r

    Does that eliminate Nexus 4's random reboot issues (while using the camera)?

    • Blendi Krasniqi

      I think that's a hardware issue, the camera goes crazy and feels like it is blowing up sometimes when it makes some noise. Not all Nexus 4's have this issue.

  • Jephri

    not available on Sony Z1s. Bummer. Will have to put it on my M8, would prefer to test it out with the Sony Sensor though...

  • Mooosh

    Am I the only one getting FC with HDR+? Nexus 5 stock.

    • Youri

      also getting FC

      • Arthur Labiris

        Also getting FC on HDR+

        • Cary

          Me too.

    • BehelitOutlaw

      working fine

  • James_C_L

    why is the hdr + mode not showing on the moto x? it has it by default

    • Raymond Berger

      I don't see it either. And the only thing stopping me from using this app is that I won't have the double twist to open camera.

      • Ryan Callihan

        Same. I'll just be using this for Lens Blur and Photosphere.

    • rmkilc

      It might be a hardware thing. Does the stock camera app on the Moto X have HDR or HDR+?

    • m477

      HDR+ works only on the Nexus 5, I guess.

  • Jephri

    Ugh. Could have gone with a little more attractive model to demo lens blur.

    • darkdude1

      Dat smile...

    • Naga Sridhar

      my exact thoughts!! God..Common Google!

    • ins0mn1a

      ah, internet comments. the realm of insight, intelligence, thoughtfulness, balance and empathy.

      • Jephri

        Guilty. To clarify, I'm sure she is a lovely girl. I'm just not a fan of the Uber hipster choices of clothing, hairstyle and makeup. From a marketing perspective giving her a little more mainstream look would be preferable for a product being released to the world.

      • RajivSK

        Is it ok if I like your comment but also the comment you are criticizing?

        • Jephri

          I'm good with that. I should not have been so rude.

          • EMullins

            It's not your fault that people get offended so easily.

    • Blendi Krasniqi

      She probably works at google, and I see nothing wrong with her. Not every angle shows the best of you. I have seen so many hate comments about her in Google+, grow up people.

      • ddpacino

        DAMN. Her twiticon is just Beautiful. She has a new Follower! LOL

    • remister

      It's the lens blur feature for a reason. JK

    • RyanWhitwam

      I'm embarrassed this comment is at the top.

    • EMullins

      Is that thing supposed to be human?

    • EMullins


    • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

      Just a bad picture, I'm sure she looks better than this

  • Youri

    I cant seem to find Tiny Planet option for photospheres

    • Bill Anderson

      After you take the photosphere, wait for it to process, then click the edit pencil.

    • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

      Tiny planet is done with the Gallery app is it not?

  • live2ski

    only seeing the lens blur feature on the Moto G. no pano or photosphere.

    • Bill Anderson

      The G doesn't have a gyroscope....

      • Franco Rossel

        Panorama doesn't require a gyro.

        • Bill Anderson

          While there are obviously ways to do panos without a gyroscope, this app DOES use it. It looks like they use the same engine as Photosphere to do the panos.

          • Franco Rossel

            Well, that's kind of a downgrade from the original camera app, they should have coded a method without gyroscope.

          • Bill Anderson

            This does not replace the stock Moto G camera app. If it has a pano mode, then Moto G users still have a pano mode...

          • Franco Rossel

            It does replaces the GPe version camera app, which is the version I own.

      • http://www.bloodflame.com/ Patrick

        I love how ironic it is that the model is G and it doesn't have a gyroscope. I know the G isn't supposed to be high-end by any means, so the lack of a gyroscope isn't surprising, and I also realize the G isn't supposed to represent the word gyroscope. I just thought it was kind of funny when you think about it

  • http://www.kylepetzinger.com/ Kyle Petzinger

    It's implied in your write-up in the panorama section, but the new panorama shots are MUCH higher resolution than the old. I looked up an old pano resolution and it was pathetic (1640x528) compared to the new camera which produces panos that basically add up 5 MP shots.

    • rmkilc

      Correct. This is the first time panorama has gotten attention since ICS. It's much better. Basically a single axis PhotoSphere.

    • http://bertelking.com/ Bertel King, Jr.

      Good catch. I'll add that in.

    • miri

      Panoramas have always been 5MP for me, though I've found that if you manage to get Auto Awesome Pano to trigger, it'll be at full resolution.

  • Danny365

    Some reviews of the app on the Play Store are so painfully stupid. Those people piss me off, grr.

    • http://dabuxian.com/ Dabu

      Yeah, funny how people seem to have no idea that photos have different aspect ratio than videos, haha.

    • Broooooook

      Can't agree more. I used a third-party camera app before just for that 4:3 ratio in viewfinder so that I could compose the shot correctly. Now finally the google camera app has that feature and people are complaining about that non-fullscreen viewfinder. Sigh~

      • Dennis Ulijn

        5:3 ratio

        • Broooooook

          Well, I have a Nexus 4 and the default photo size is 3264 by 2448, which has an aspect ratio of 4:3. But this might vary for different phones I guess?

          • Dennis Ulijn

            You're right. Digital cameras almost always have 4:3 sensors. Printed photos are alomst always close to 3:5... (3x5 inch, 10x15cm, 13x18cm, A4)

          • DirkBelig

            35mm is 3:2 ratio, so prints are 4x6 inches. Can't stand the video-based 4:3 they force on you. IIRC my Galaxy S II had options for wide and square photos. What's wrong with a little choice, Google?

          • Sam g

            Your phone doesn't have a 35mm sensor

          • DirkBelig


    • Grayson

      I've been marking the ones who don't understand that the viewfinder aspect ratio is actually fixed now as unhelpful, and marking the ones who do understand and appreciate it as helpful. If others do this too, maybe we can bury these stupid reviews.

      • Sergio

        I love photography and I like this change, but Google should address diversity. Just put an option in settings to change to fullscreen viewfinder and everybody happy

        • SSJwiggy

          Why reinforce the negative habit of using a viewfinder that cuts off part of the picture you're taking? It's not like digital cameras do that.

          • DirkBelig

            No kidding. I'm a photographer and am used to having control of my compositions and was always frustrated to see my careful framing tossed aside because what I saw wasn't what I was going to get.

          • Sergio

            Yes. But I'm not talking about amateur photographers buying micro 4:3 cameras who eventually use the phone to take photos. I'm talking about most of the people having and Android, shooting just with it, not caring at all about sensor sizes and screen ratios or whether they match or not, and thinking: "Dude, this black space is awful, I much prefer the old camera". I remember you this is A LOT of people and there's no reason to make them angry, If you want them to keep using your app or OS, of course.

  • Zell

    I can't seem to take picture while recording a video anymore.

    • NOT RahmEmanuel

      Yep, that feature was a casualty of this camera app re-do.

      No promises, but I suspect it will return in a later update.

  • http://www.toysdiva.com Toys Samurai

    >> even with its unfortunate side effect of shrinking down photos to either
    1024x768 or 2048x1536 (depending on whether it's set to low or high).

    I couldn't get it to shoot in 2048x1536 on my Moto X. I double checked that it's been set to high. I wonder if it has anything to do with the underlying camera's max. resolution.

    • http://www.toysdiva.com Toys Samurai

      BTW, in no way I am complaining about the lower resolution pictures -- I would argue that in 99% of the times, the lower resolution picture coming out of it looks much much better than the native resolution one. The downsampling produces pictures that have smoother color transition, and less noises -- I would have done the same thing manually in PhotoShop myself if I was given a job to produce a better looking picture w/o the constraint of keeping the original resolution.

  • miri

    Google Camera via the lock screen, Moto camera via Quick Capture. This is living.

  • Peter Pen

    am i the only one who notices the new gallery app called google photos with awesome new editor included :) have fun ;)

    • Benjamin Pavel

      That was included in Google+ app...few months already?

  • http://www.emuparadise.me/roms-isos-games.php Apple is a patent troll

    Still horrible when compared to other camera apps like Snap which gives you much more control.

    • Worried

      Do you ever have anything positive to say? Every one of your posts is negative or filled with vitriol.

      Honestly, are you just mad at everything? I am actually worried about your health.

  • Lupe Fiasco

    One thing to note would be that the Camera Icon is different from the leaks we saw a few days back. Wonder if the Icons we saw a few days ago were designed early.

  • tonylee427

    why there is no panaroma or photo sphere on Moto G?

  • chris125

    Updated yet my camera icon looks the same, and different from in the picture? This is on my nexus 7? Is that normal or?

    • Simon Belmont

      Reboot. It should refresh.

      Sometimes the icon resource doesn't refresh right away. Hope this helps.

  • Vilmar

    Anyone notice that the timer feature is gone?

  • Romario Maxwell


    • Giovanni

      Buy an app. Put a US billing address. Notify your bank you will be doing that. Boom! your country is changed to the US.

      • Mozaik

        Or just download "Apk" .

  • Jon

    If the app is not exclusive to Nexus or GE edition devices...Does it allow to save to SD card? Or as in any google app should we expect to be ignored?

  • Satish Odedra

    Is HDR+ only limited to Nexus 5 or available for all models?
    I don't see it on my Z1.

    • tim242

      It shows on my S5.

    • fonseca898

      Doesn't show on my Note 3.

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    Yup, I do find the ahuuter button a bit TOO big, it was better in the previous camera app. But the new UI is definitely hinting at what we can expect from new Android

  • Pankaj Kumar

    Folks, in previous version of camera we were able to take the pic also while recording the video by touching the screen, i don't see that feature in this version. Is this feature gone in the latest version?? Plz respond. Thanks

  • black

    Why would they make it incompatible with my S3? Thank heavens for AP.

  • surethom

    Bring us 16:9 widescreen to my Nexus 5 at around 6 megapixel & I will be extreamly happy, until then I am not.

    • Jaredsutter

      That seems oddly specific and non-standard. I have a feeling that you will be unhappy for a long, long time.

      • surethom

        If you crop a 8 megapixel 4:3 photo to widescreen you get 6 megapixel so many other 8 megapixel phones over the years have done this.

  • Abdullah

    The google camera on my nexus 4 doesnt have exposure settings. Also after updating i lost the ability to take hdr photos from the front cam as well. Anybody else experiencing this?

    • GarrickWinter

      I had this same problem! It's really annoying. Does anyone know how to fix this?

      I'm also on a Nexus 4.

  • Pankaj Kumar

    In previous version of camera we were able to take the pic also while recording the video by touching the screen, i don't see that feature in this version. Is this feature gone in the latest version??

  • Sophia Patel

    Good changing. I love this pictures very nice.


  • Deeco

    Anyone dislike the black bar behind the capture button? Why?!

    • Nabeel Farooqui

      That massive bar helps mold the viewfinder into the proper shape for the Nexus 5 (though this app is not exclusive to Nexus or Google Play Edition devices), so what you see on the screen should finally match the photo that you get.

  • MessUp

    They messed something up with viewing PhotoSphere and Panorama in Google+. It now says sometimes "can't open photosphere". Great job, Google.

    • matteventu

      For me, it works like a charm.

  • Rirruto

    No HDR function on my GS4 even though stock Samsung camera has it. Annoying.

  • Viswa

    Why does the Google camera app take pictures with the front camera at 1.0 megapixels instead of 1.2 megapixels? I don't see an option to change it to 1.2 megapixels. Is there some way to manually tweak it.

    • Simon Belmont

      It's 1.2 megapixels for me. What phone are you using (I'm using a Nexus 5, but it's 1.2 on my Galaxy Nexus also running CM11)?

      You can adjust the camera resolution by swiping from the left and then tapping the cog icon on the right. Hope this helps.

  • Simon Belmont

    It's odd that they removed the 16:9 photo ratio. Although, I normally used the full 8 megapixels 4:3 one anyway.

    Hoping they also bring back the ability to capture a photo while doing a video. It'd be nice if you could also focus with a tap while capturing a photo during a video, too.

  • Matthew Fry

    I like that the viewer now shows what the picture will actually look like but the button bar is terrible design wise. There's no indication that the entire bar is a button. It should be something that fills more of the bar. It reminds me of the gigantic HTC menu button. I'm more like a negative graphic design artist (my presence makes graphic designers less talented) but something like this would give a better indication that the entire area is a button.

  • ken

    i clicked setting but FC appeared.

  • Ryan Steddy

    The 'What's Gone' section is awfully small considering how much was taken away. I feel the stuff missing is more important than the one or two new thinsg that were added.

    You also missed out that you now can't take a picture left handed - the shutter button now switches sides when you change it 180 degrees. :-(

  • papps_gunner

    Hey... I had a doubt.... Where are the different modes which were there earlier... I can find any mention about it... Have they been buried or what... Eg. Sunset mode, party mode etc...
    I guess an upgrade should ideally have more options... Or m I missing something... Please help

  • Chris

    I'm using the Dirty Unicorns rom on my Note 2 (holy crap this rom is siiiiiick) and this camera is a tad buggy. I can't change resolution (it just force closes) and there's no HDR mode. Other than that it's awesome, and the lens blur is much more impressive than I thought it'd be.

  • ahhh yes

    Where is the count down timer?????? F u google

  • grabtheitem

    Focus indicator no longer works..& ui is not good
    Expecting more from Google

  • Erin

    Anyone know how to access the front camera?

  • Sam g

    There is nothing behind it though, that's kinda the point of it...

    • Ryan Steddy

      Ah. You have me there. I think I'll just remain quiet about this from now on. It will save me any more embarrassment...

  • Mark Medler

    Where is the timer? The timer was great for selfies.

  • Casen Brashear

    The viewfinder on phones with native 16:9 camera sensors have the shutter bar translucent like the video portion.

    • Casen Brashear

      Edit. Apparently I did it wrong. Here.

  • 220volt

    Why can I only get 1024x576 resolution on my Moto X when i use lens-blur? Setting is set high, but no different. On N5 resolution will be 2056x1536 same on galaxy S4. Lens-blur looks really ugly because of the low resolution 1024x576

  • Robert Hoy

    Hi I keep installing and uninstalling the app...I prefer the HDR+ on the original nexus 5 camera.

  • Sir Perro

    This is all Google's fault, cropping the picture to 16:9 just because it was prettier.
    Now they will suffer 1 star classifications for the next 4 billion years. Stupidity strikes back.

  • sgtguthrie

    Why not compatible with all devices? Not available for Note 2 on Jelly Bean :-(

    Edit: Guess I should have finished the article and seen that it's for 4.4+ :-)

  • SueGreenwald

    I really miss the easy access to the white balance and the exposure compensation. Those are the only two features really care about.

  • chewie

    I dislike how you cannot take photos during video any more, the rest is welcomed

  • Sarang

    The worst part is countdown is gone. How m I supposed to take selfies now...

  • Paul H

    Are you mad? The loss of the white balance has ruined the camera, they've taken a step back!

  • Christy

    I am really really missing the feature that allowed for picture taking while recording video. Is that gone, or am I just missing the new way to do it?

  • Joseph

    Had a hard time finding how to manipulate the resolution options. Your article really helped. It's pretty detailed and clear. Kudos!


    I m using Nexus 5 . I updated to this latest Google camera. But I feel the old camera a bit more comfortable. Is there anyway to get Back old camera??

  • Old Nexus Camera

    Why the hell they removed white balance option

  • Athul

    I wonder whether the functionality of taking photos while shooting videos is still there? I am unable to find it though. :(