Camera app

Redesigned radial menu makes it easier to see all your options

We've got our our hands on the "Google Play edition" Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One, and we've been putting both devices through their paces. For the most part, it's hardware we already know running software we've seen before on the Nexus 4. But there's one subtle change we've noticed that could make it a little easier to control your photographic options on the new Googlified devices.

The camera app that ships on the Google-branded GS4 is later than what's on the Nexus 4 (version 1.1.40012 versus 1.1.40001, if you're keeping track), and the UI has been somewhat redesigned. The big circular menu on the Nexus is replaced with an arch-shaped menu on the Google Editions, making it easier to see all your options without your thumb getting in the way.

The options have been moved around a little too — the top level consists of HDR, exposure, more settings, flash and front/rear toggle. Move up to the next layer of settings and you'll get location, timer, image size, white balance (bumped down one layer compared to the N4) and scene mode. We've also noticed that the animations when moving around the camera UI seem a bit smoother in the Google Edition app.

You might remember this new camera UI from a leaked version of Android 4.3 spotted on the on a trade show floor around a month ago — so we'll probably see the new radial menu in Android 4.3 when it arrives on Nexus devices. It's interesting, however, to see the Google Edition phones get a bit of a head-start in this particular area.

Update: Another new feature, as noted by Keyan Mobli: You can use the volume buttons as a shutter button. Another good change.

For more on the "Google Play Edition" Galaxy S4 and HTC One, check out our first look feature. We'll be putting the cameras on both phones to the test in the days ahead.

More: First look: Google Play edition HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4