Google’s Android OS has many venerable traits, but the camera isn’t one of them. The software iterates with each release, but it doesn’t ever get all that much better, and the hardware on Android devices seems to disappoint pretty consistently. People had high hopes for the Nexus 5 making things better, but photos barely improved versus the dismal Nexus 4.
Don’t get me wrong: I love Google’s Nexus devices and the 5 is otherwise a great phone. The problem is that the camera falls completely flat, especially compared to those on iPhone devices. Luckily, Google has created an update to Android 4.4 KitKat (due out over the next few days), as reported by the Verge, that will improve camera performance on the Nexus 5, improving contrast, exposure, autofocus and more.
I’ll be somewhat skeptical until I actually get to try it out myself (it should be rolling out in the next few days, according to The Verge), but early examples show a pretty marked improvement.
Google’s inability to make a phone with a decent camera is somewhat mind-boggling, given all they’ve been able to accomplish with photos on other platforms. Their Google+ pictures update from June is actually remarkably impressive, delivering automatic adjustments and enhancements that take a lot of the standard busy work out of making small changes to photos that can result in big improvements to the final product.
It has the expertise, and with this update it also proves that it’s applying that know-how in intelligent ways. The missed target on the original Nexus 5 camera release might be ascribable to a rush to get the new OS out in time for the scheduled device launch, but at least shoring up this failing makes the Nexus 5 even more of a no-brainer for the budget conscious smartphone shopper than it was before.