KitKat Gallery

A few simple changes to make your pictures look a little better

There's a great grouping of user-facing features in the latest update to Android 4.4 KitKat, but one has been generally overlooked. Although it hasn't received much of a visual refresh from what was available in 4.3, the built-in photo editor in the Gallery app has received a bit of a facelift, with a few new features to boot.

This is one of those "tightening the screws" kind of updates that brings the experience up a notch or two, making it just a little easier to edit and tweak your photos to your liking. This isn't going to rival anything you can do with a true photo editor on your desktop, but then again that process isn't as easy as using the Gallery.

Hit the break for a closer look at the new features and capabilities of Gallery in Android 4.4.

Tapping the edit button while viewing a photo in the Android 4.4 Gallery isn't going to bring a brand new experience by any means, but that doesn't mean improvements haven't been made. As we see in the video above, Google has made several enhancements to the experience of editing photos on your phone.

Improvements can be seen in the way different filters and controls are labeled, as well as with an increased number of filters, effects and tools to adjust your images. And best of all, the Gallery is a nondestructive editor — any changes you make to your photos will be kept separate from the original image.

That means when you're done with edits, not only can you now save them as a preset filter but you can also export a full resolution image that you've edited to the Gallery. If you ever want to go back and edit your image again, you'll have the option to reset it back to the way it was or apply new filters and adjustment.

If you're serious about photography you'll probably be pulling these photos off into a desktop photo editor, but for quick fixes and changes on the fly, the Gallery now has even more going for it.

Image edited in the Gallery, before (top) and after (bottom)

Sample image (before)

Sample image (after)

More: Nexus 5 camera samples and first impressions


Reader comments

Photo editing improvements in the Android 4.4 KitKat Gallery


question: did the leaked 4.4 launcher/ camera have 'photosphere' ability? I loaded it up (among the other extracted apk's) & was sad to find it missing.
Had to revert back to my Nova launcher & 4.3 framework to enable my photosphere option again.

I don't think you mean "leaked" exactly.

I take it you are talking about the camera app taken from the nexus 5 AOSP repository, and being ran on some other device. AOSP is not the same as a Nexus factory image (which would include the photosphere capable camera app). The photosphere version of the camera app has not ever been in the AOSP repository.

The camera app in the nexus 5 factory image isn't going to work on other devices.

It's been pretty common practice for users who use an AOSP based custom ROM, to have two camera apps installed on their phone (nexus 4 users), the one that comes default from AOSP, and another taken from the Nexus factory image (the one with photosphere) and installed separately.

I am guessing you have a nexus 4. You'll have to wait for the factory image for 4.4 to be released for the photosphere capable camera app.

have an s4--and have regularly just installed the extracted 'nexus edition camera' apk that gets passed around--and is how i've had photosphere capability on my S4 since the day I got it.
I was hoping to get the faster rendering of photospheres--and for that matter, really wish they could incorporate video recording of a sphere like Sphere/TourWrist did months ago.

Still am confused as to why there's a 'Photos' app and a 'Gallery' app. Seamless photo syncing just isn't quite there yet.

The "Gallery" app is the AOSP app, while the "Photos" app is built into Google+

I've never used Gallery, and have always used a replacement because I think it's ugly and not functional. The Photos app is pretty but also lacking in certain functions. Neither are perfect.

I really do appreciate the Google is iterating the Gallery app in AOSP, but they really need to fix both or either of the two apps, and soon. Default Photo management tools in Android have never been good, and while they are better they are still not good enough.

The editing functions of both are completely different. That's why they're both still there.

Add Snapseed to the mix and you'll see where Google is going, but Rome wasn't built in a day. It's all a mess as they try to work on Chrome OS/Browser, Android Gallery and Android Photo.

I still want somebody to check "camera import". I love the fact I can hook up my DSLR to my Android device and then browse and import photos. Went a bit bust in 4.3 so I'm hoping they fixed it in 4.4.

And yes, I do nag a bit about this. But since no one seems to notice that they even has this feature do annoy me more than it should ;-)

Android Central should stop doing articles reviewing "Android 4.4 KitKat" when what you are actually doing is reviewing the Nexus 5. You don't know how KitKat is going to work on other devices. Google has made it abundantly clear through the ebook that they released to the Play Store yesterday that the version of KitKat that you are looking at on your Nexus 5 is different than what is going to be released to other devices.

Please stop conflating Nexus 5 and Android 4.4. While you are at it, maybe you can do a report on how other devices are not getting the same launcher as the Nexus 5.

Thanks for finally covering this. When I was listening to the Podcast, folks were poo-pooing the inclusion of Gallery and Photos/Google+ as "confusing and unnecessary."

While I agree they are confusing, they are not unnecessary as Google has now created a myriad of ways to edit photos.

Perhaps it's time for Jerry (or perhaps Andrew...) to do a post on Gallery vs Snapseed vs Photo apps...they're all made by Google and each do different things.

Biggest difference between AOSP gallery and other apps is that it comes with Android. In other words, if you build your own device using Android or buying something using Android but without the Google apps such as Play Store, you get the AOSP gallery.

Google+ then comes with its own Photo app, promoting that feature. And Snapseed is to just another app. All three just happens to come out of Google HQ.

It's also important to note that Snapseed will shrink your photos down in size and the same goes for Google+, unless you opt in for uploading the full size. In that sense, AOSP Gallery is closer to Photoshop then to Snapseed.

Posted via Android Central App

Thanks. We could just write the whole thing for them! I think it's also important to point out that G+ editing tools also work on desktop/laptop web browsers and iOS - a huge point for Google to not forget about those folks.

What I was referring more to however, is a useful rundown of what editing features are available in each of the three options (or perhaps more useful would be what can't you do in one that you can do in another), rather than to the logic behind having three separate editors.

The oft disliked "Gallery" app for it's perceived poor handling of photo organization, is now one of my favorite photo editing apps in Android. The new improvements have me questioning the need for Snapseed any longer.

I wish the default gallery apps from Google or other OEMs had an option to resize (not crop) a photo. Having the option to post or share a photo in a dimension/size we choose would be great.

I normally edit photos using Pixlr Express and it has an option to save in a custom size but the One gallery app is great for cropping or auto enhancing and much of the time I don't need t use a third-party app.

Andrew, what kind of dog do you have? My parents have a mutt but his face looks exactly like yours. Serious question.

Thanks for the post as well. They consolidate messaging but split up photo management. Ugh.

Posted via Android Central App

Just realized you can swipe not only left to right on the picture to see the original, but you can swipe from top to bottom or bottom to top to see the original. Pretty cool, I like it.

The old photo editor was non-destructive but the new one is totally destructive! I just discovered a photo I was messing with is now permanently altered. Googling shows everyone reprinting the press release about "non-destructive" editing, but this sadly isn't the case. What's the deal?

Posted via sheer force of will on my Nexus 5!

I thought so too, it seems that it saves the effect over top the source image. When I access the file listings from my computer, it shows the edited photo but not the original. Here's how to get the original back:

Browse through Android Gallery and tap to open the image.
Click the Edit icon
From the Menu (three dots at the top right, or the menu button on some Samsung devices) click "Reset".

This should undo any changes you've made.

In the future, instead of using the "Save" button, tap the Menu button again and choose "Export". This will also let you save in a format that's easier for emailing. Hope this helps.

Previously, the non-destructive feature would save the source and edited image side-by-side. I'm disappointed that they changed that.