Google is to blame for Moment discontinuing its Pro camera app

Moment Pro Camera app
Moment Pro Camera app (Image credit: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

Moment makes a great set of lenses for your phone and has an awesome camera app that gives you complete control over all of your camera settings. It's so good that it's worth using even if you didn't buy a set of Moment lenses for your phone.

That's going to change soon enough, though. This is Moment's statement as posted on its web site:

We have some bad news about Pro Camera for Android. We love Android, but unfortunately, we don't have the engineering bandwidth to continue developing this app.It breaks our heart to say this, but we've spent the last two years, yes two full years, trying to deliver a pro-level manual camera app. It should be simple, but unfortunately, it's not.The short is that phone makers like to create their own flavor of Android, each with different amounts of access to select camera features. The result has been a random compatibility list where each phone has different features in the app by phone model. The problem only gets worse every time a new version of Android comes out because it breaks the custom modifications these phone makers have made with their phones.Despite years of messaging phone makers to share their changes and make camera features available to us, we haven't been able to change this culture. I wish we had dozens of engineers to continue developing this app, but we don't.The app is still live in the Play Store and we plan to leave it here for any customers who want to shoot with it. If you are looking for a pro-level app we do recommend Filmic Pro. It is more expensive but they do a great job with the app.

This is a little alarming once you read it again and see why Moment is forced to stop development on its app: "Phone makers like to create their own flavor of Android, each with different amounts of access to select camera features."

And this is all Google's fault for not taking control of its own platform.

The solution is simple, even though it would inconvenience companies like Samsung: force all native Android features to be available for all hardware even if a company built its own version.

Even if a phone maker can do it better, what's part of Android has to be fully available for developers.

Since we're picking on Samsung right now, let's consider an example: The standard Camera2 API isn't going to cut it when it comes to the Galaxy S20 Ultra. There is just too much going on there that Google doesn't support in the way a custom camera programming interface can. So Samsung had to build its own.

Android's base is open source, but not all of Android is and most of it is covered under an open-source license that breaks the spirit of free and open. It allows Samsung to change Android in just about every way but doesn't force Samsung to share those changes with the rest of the industry.

Google does a lot to help developers code for Android, but it needs to get a little more heavy-handed.

So Samsung built a better camera, using better hardware and better low-level software to make full use of it. That's awesome. It doesn't have to share what it did so Moment (and plenty of other companies) has to struggle to make the changes in order to offer full support. And that's what has to happen since Google doesn't force OEMs like Samsung to support all of Android's native features and expose them for software developers.

For now, the Moment Pro app still works and is supported on phones with "special" camera software like the Galaxy S20. But it's not full-featured and the situation will only get worse as time goes by. Even if you don't care about the Moment Camera app, you should care about the problem because your favorite app could be next.

I understand that Google is already in hot water for having such a heavy hand over how its services are used in Android phones and that may make the company a little timid. But come on. What phone makers are allowed to do right now with your platform is a mess. Roll up your sleeves and put an end to it once and for all.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.