Third-party apps in Android 13 can capture HDR video and show better viewfinder previews

If they use Camera2 API or CameraX

There’s a long-standing Android pain point: The camera experience in third-party apps usually isn’t as good as the built-in camera app. For social media, that can suck. The Camera2 API was developed to help plug that gap, though some developers and manufacturers have been flippant about doing things the “right” way to make it better. In Google’s “What’s new in Android” talk, the company has highlighted changes in Android 13 that add support for HDR video capture for third-party apps through the Camera2 API.

The new support, also previously and partially documented by Esper.io’s Mishaal Rahman, works via the Camera2 APIs in Android 13 and the CameraX library, backporting the feature for developers using Jetpack. That should mean that both new and old devices can take advantage of it if they’ve got the hardware and pipeline to support it. Certain formats / profiles are required for support, with a minimum of HLG10. This will work with both front and rear cameras as well.

ANDROIDPOLICE VIDEO OF THE DAY

On top of that, Android 13’s APIs are also adding support for preview stabilization and jitter reduction, so the view that you see through an app’s viewfinder of the camera is less janky and more true to the results, with improvements for higher frames. Based on context, it sounds like this is also coming to older devices through the CameraX library, but we’ve reached out to Google to explicitly confirm that and other details.

As touched on, the Camera2 API and CameraX library have long promised to make the camera experience in third-party apps better, but some manufacturers don’t care to make their devices fully compatible with it, and that fragmentation means developers aren’t encouraged to target it, making everything a mess. While it doesn’t fix that intrinsic issue, Google’s also looking into providing its own “extensions” for camera features and effects in CameraX when manufacturers don’t provide them, and a lot of them, including Google, don’t. It’s a small step that could help in some cases, plugging the gap until more manufacturers can be coerced into caring. A Google-provided bokeh effect extension is coming later this year.

More information about these changes should be coming tomorrow in the “What’s new in Android Camera” session, and we’ll update our coverage if there are any big takeaways.


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