Recent updates to both the Photos and Camera apps have included some really interesting clues, suggesting Google may be planning to put a lot of effort into upping its game with smartphone photographers. The latest update to Snapseed was no different; not only did it bring a few worthwhile new features, but some resources inside the apk also betray plans for the future. Snapseed will be adding enhanced controls for working with white balance in RAW mode and there's an effects randomizer coming to the editor.


Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android's application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that plans could change or may be canceled entirely. Much like rumors, nothing is certain until it's officially announced and released.

The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk.

White Balance Presets

Snapseed added support for editing RAW images at the end of last year, including all of the most fundamental settings from the start. But like many of Snapseed's settings, the interface simply offered a slider for color temperatures. Many users may not be entirely familiar with color temperatures, which makes this a fairly unfriendly interface for the novice. New strings in the app demonstrate white balance presets are coming.

The list of presets is pretty typical, often found in just about every camera, "pro" camera app, and in many editors. It includes (in typical order): Tungsten, Fluorescent, Sunny, Flash, Cloudy, and Shade. There are also options to set a custom temperature, let Snapseed figure it out for you with auto white balance, or return to the original setting with As Shot.

Preset Strings

<string name="photo_editor_filter_name_whitebalance">White Balance</string>
<string name="photo_editor_raw_white_balance_as_shot">As Shot</string>
<string name="photo_editor_raw_white_balance_auto">Auto</string>
<string name="photo_editor_raw_white_balance_cloudy">Cloudy</string>
<string name="photo_editor_raw_white_balance_custom">Custom</string>
<string name="photo_editor_raw_white_balance_flash">Flash</string>
<string name="photo_editor_raw_white_balance_fluorescent">Fluorescent</string>
<string name="photo_editor_raw_white_balance_shade">Shade</string>
<string name="photo_editor_raw_white_balance_sunny">Sunny</string>
<string name="photo_editor_raw_white_balance_tungsten">Tungsten</string>

The color temperatures associated with each of the preset names are fairly well-established among photographers, but there are a couple that vary slightly depending on whom you ask.

It's pretty likely these presets will show up in roughly the same arrangement as the various filters already offered in the editor. As for the location, it's possible White Balance will be added to the Filters section or it may become a part of the RAW editor itself.

White Balance Neutral Picker

Playing with the white balance can do quite a bit to control the mood of a photo, but for those that care a great deal about color accuracy, it's important to be able to nail down exactly what your lighting situation is like. For professional photographers, the first step is usually to capture a shot with a gray card. This image can be used with the right software to easily correct for lighting temperature. All that's necessary is to point the software to a spot in a photo that is known to be totally neutral and the rest is done automatically. And it's that exact feature that's about to appear in Snapseed.

<string name="white_picker_close_title">Close Picker</string>
<string name="white_picker_message">Pick a color that should be neutral by tapping or by stroking.</string>
<string name="white_picker_title">Color Picker</string>
<string name="white_picker_toast">Pick Neutral Target Color</string>

Judging by the text, this will work exactly like it does in apps like Lightroom. Simply pointing to a neutral color in an image should be able to pull out the necessary adjustment. Once that value is known, it can be easily applied to other photos.

This won't exactly send Snapseed into the same league with other professional editing tools, but it actually solves a potentially big problem and might turn it into a very useful tool for some situations. With this simple feature addition, it's plausible that a professional photographer could carry a tablet (or even a smartphone) into the field to use for quick edits and demonstrations to a client.

There are other apps that can do this, including the oft-mentioned Adobe Lightroom, but there's no reason Snapseed shouldn't fill in some of the gaps.

Effects Randomizer

There's not much to say about this one, it's just a randomizer for an effect that can be activated with a double-tap. Each time it runs, the position and orientation of digitally added light leaks and scratches will change.

<string name="photo_editor_style_shuffle_accessibility">Use double tap to shuffle the position and orientation of light leaks and scratches.</string>
<string name="photo_editor_style_shuffled">Style %s shuffled.</string>

I know things like this are popular among certain crowds to achieve the old film look and add a "realistic" quality to photos, but I've never been a fan. Maybe that's why I don't think this one is very interesting. Nevertheless, I'm sure some people will like to know this is coming to a filter someday soon.


The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.


Image Credit: Lily by Fg2