Is Raw coming to Android?


posted Monday, November 18, 2013 at 1:34 PM EDT


As of right now, if you're a smartphone photographer looking to shoot Raw, your options are pretty limited. There are a couple of Nokia phones that have that capability, but other than that you're more or less out of luck. But Android users could soon be shooting uncompressed too, if new reports are to be believed.

Apparently, a new camera API for Android has been under construction since last December, but it wasn't deemed ready for release with Android KitKat. But people have gone diving into the source code of the API, and have found all manner of new feature being discussed.

Probably the biggest new feature is that the new API would allow Android users to shoot Raw. The code says:

General RAW camera sensor image format, usually representing a single-channel Bayer-mosaic image. Each pixel color sample is stored with 16 bits of precision.

The layout of the color mosaic, the maximum and minimum encoding values of the RAW pixel data, the color space of the image, and all other needed information to interpret a RAW sensor image must be queried from the {@link} which produced the image.

The new API would also support face detection, burst mode, and even removable cameras — something we've never heard tell of otherwise.

Now, there's no indication of when this code might be released, or even if it will be (there's always a chance it might be totally scrapped). But hopefully Google is hard at work on these new features, and Android will get Raw in the very near future.

What will also be interesting is to see what this means for recent dedicated cameras that run Android, like the Samsung Galaxy or Nikon S800c.