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 (opens in new tab):

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.

  • google is really screwing the pooch on this one i like the moment app and love their lenses
  • Very helpful article to help me learn something new
  • The problem is Google doesn't give enough default access to camera hardware. Windows phone gave an amazing apintonits camera hardware. Allowing for things like 30 second exposures and ither stuff. Look at the pixel. It doesn't offer a lot of access to its camera hardware. If google just offered better access through its apis then we wouldn't need this crap.
  • My main gripe with Android when it comes to the camera capabilities. I got the Xperia Z3 after learning that Android would support the Camera 2 API with the next version of Android...only to find out this was not a one size fits all application. Sony never supported Camera 2 API and I never got manual controls on the Z3 which was an excellent phone at the time. That's when I looked to LG because they went all out with manual controls in their camera app that couldn't be trusted to a third party app for this same reason: support. This is the same reason why I'm going back to LG because some of the bigger players like Samsung don't give you the same controls as LG does and a third party app is not guaranteed to get any access to things like secondary lenses etc. I reached out to Filmic Pro about telephoto and wide angle capabilities for my OnePlus 7 Pro and they basically stated that OnePlus has to grant them access to those lenses in the camera system. At least I know LG, and Sony I might add, cover all the bases themselves as a way to give users who want those special controls over photos and videos that might not be supported elsewhere.
  • I went back to Apple. I’d rather a system that is reliable. FiLMiC Pro is amazing on iOS but not worth the price on Android. Samsung removed Video Pro Mode. That was the straw that broke the camels back for me. There were no third party apps that worked properly and could replace it, due to the bad Camera API implementation on the device, and the fact that Android OEMs only care about unreleased, future, products... not those on the market, already.
  • Moment doesn't even support all Android devices with their hardware though. Their lenses are device agnostic, but worthless without the requisite Moment case. The only benefit of their app was anamorphic desqueeze, but anybody using Moment's anamorphic lens is probably serious enough to already have the software to maximize its potential, including desqueeze. Otherwise, the stock camera on any phone is far better; far. And you'll get better, more comprehensive manual controls to boot.
    I guess I'm not understanding why Google has to universally support hardware even Moment doesn't support universally.
  • Samsung removed Pro Video Mode from their Camera, so if doing video it’s a complete non-option unless you buy a new Galaxy S20. They did not add this feature back in the Android 10 update for S9/Note9. I think it was removed from the S8/Note8 in the Pie update, as well. Third party apps are huge when this sort of thing happens on devices. Filmic Pro is pretty trash on Samsung devices, as well. My only choice was to buy a new phone, so I got a new iPhone 11 Pro. Not risking this happening on the S20 to me, as it made my Note not much more than an inconveniently huge feature phone to me (video recording is a huge portion of my use of a smartphone as an athlete - we all use these devices as training aids).
  • Filmic Pro works flawlessly on the Note 10, and supports anamorphic lenses. Tell me about pro mode video recording on an iPhone, without third party apps.
  • 1. iPHone has 3rd party apps, in the App Store. 2. FiLMiC Pro is not flawless on Samsung devices. I know someone that I train with with a Note 10+. I've tried it. If it were flawless, I'd have entertained the $699 upgrade deal, since I pay cash for my devices and bought the iPhone 11 Pro + AppleCare+ Theft & Lost outright. 2. I've never set the default camera app to a third party camera app on an Android phone, ever, becuase multiple apps that I use automatically use the Samsung Camera App as the in-app camera (Dartfish Express, for example). Using a third party default just makes for an ugly, clunky, and inconsistent user experience. Different cameras will pop up in different apps, etc. So for me, the Android experience really was no different than the iOS experience, since I avoid installing unnecessary duplicative apps on my devices anyways (waste of space, and often a waste of power when the apps are not nearly as optimized as the stock offerings). Pro Mode on an iPhone is FiLMiC Pro recording with 3+ extra stops of Dynamic Range in comparison to Samsung Devices. Having complete feature set that works across the board due to Apple's Camera APIs, and complete access to all lenses - not just the lenses that you think are "good enough," because you don't use the device the way I do. These devices are not luxury fashion items to me. They're training and coaching aids. They're used for work. I don't buy iPhones because I think the Apple logo looks better. I buy it because it's a more reliable workhorse than these PoS samsung phones that can the features that got you to buy it over an iPhone ripped out simply because Samsung and Google are too lazy to coordinate these details. Go back to taking cute selfies. I have work to do.
  • "Moment doesn't even support all Android devices with their hardware though." with the multitude of Android devices out there... how could you even expect Moment to support all of them??? Hell, Samsung released 45 different phones last year. You only have a business by supporting the most popular phones.
  • Yes the problem is that you can't even use the pixel camera on say a Samsung device. And people want the cool features that other OEM's put on their phones that Pixel's don't. Look at a screenshot scrolling. Google announced its coming to Android 11. But Samsung has had it Since at least Android 9. Google needs to see what features from other OEM's are creating and get these features as "stock" and that would make more of the features we have on our phones native and companies like Samsung wouldn't have to modify theirs as Much and ultimately all phones could be "vanilla" Android and support would be better for the app developers. They need to more R&D on what people want before they create/update the new OS.
  • Doesn’t matter if the OEM removes the stock feature for their own. Who wants to test Googles code when you know your own works and has been battle tested for years leading up to Google tipping it off? It’s bad, but it’s logical and we would all do the same thing. Samsung wants to make money. Not waste it just to make you feel slightly more happy about the situation (until the next Android update hits your phone, at least)...
  • I don't understand, so Samsung, Google, OnePlus, whoever, can't protect some of the software they create. These companies do what they do to stand out in a flooded sea of Android devices. If this software was accessible for everyone, what would make each phone different? Nothing. If Samsung wants to keep there camera software shut out from the rest of the world, including 3rd party developers, then that is their choice, isn't it?
  • Has nothing to do with that. Samsung phones don’t fully support the Android Camera2 API, so third party applications can not access things like additional cameras (telephoto, ultrawide) or access certain features needed to implement manual controls in a standardized way. Multiply this by dozens of OEMs and hundreds of Handsets running numerous versions of Android, and its a crapshoot. You need 10x the developer manpower to develop and maintain these apps on Android than iOS. None of this requires the OEMs to cede their camera IP, and it’s not like anyone wants to steal Samsung’s camera code anyways - much of which has barely changed since 2013 or so.
  • Not sure what apps you've been using, but the only lens not supported on Samsung phones is usually the "zoom" lens, which is fine since its quality is bad enough to make a crop from the main lens better 99% of the time. Filmic Pro supports the wide and ultra-wide lenses.
    Moment only supports three brands, so it's not like they're dealing with hundreds of devices. Their app was just always bad, and now redundant since Filmic released Firstlight; probably the reason even Moment recommends them: they always did it better.
  • That's not usable for video, especially when you film on a tripod and have to step away from the phone. Like I said earlier, you have a very elementary view of how people actually use these devices in the real world. Your solution is ridiculous. I need access to the Telephoto Lens wiht the ability to Lock Exposure, Focus, etc. while filming video. Otherwise, the phone is of little use to me. the only reason why I have a smartphone is because I use them to record video for analysis and as a training aid. Taking away Pro Mode and leaving the device broken for practically every other "Pro Camera" app in the Android ecosystem turned my phone from a tool into a brick. It was literally a waste of $1,000+ that I should have spent on the iPhone Xs Max, instead. I don't give a sh*t what [just] Moment supports. This doesn't JUST affect Moment's app, and it doesn't only support Samsung phones. It's an ecosystem-wide issue, which is why my only recourse was to go back to Apple. DID YOU EVEN READ THIS POST YOU'RE COMMENTING ON? Quote: "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." In the future, please do so. I'm tired of "enthusiasts" who do little more than look at how their phone looks and browse social media getting on here debating whether or not people should care about critical shortfalls in functionality that affects them due to these issues. Who are you, even? I don't even need an ultra wide lens on a phone. I only need wide and telephoto. And yes, I need telephoto and I need it to work with the apps that offer the features I need. At this point, an iPhone 8 Plus is more usable for me than most Samsung devices (they did bring back Pro Video Mode on the S20, cause ripping out features and then carroting your users with the same feature on a new device is a GREAT way to get them to upgrade!!!). Moment Recommends FiLMiC Pro because it's the only half-decent solution that exists. There are app categories on Android that are far worse served than they are on iOS. As an athlete that uses specific types of apps, this is plain as day. Even for apps that eixst on both platforms, the iOS version is almost always clearly better. I use both phones on a daily basis (Android 10 OneUI 2 and iOS 13.3.x). It's clear as day. Camera apps are a HUGE problem on Android, unless you just need something that takes filtered pictures. Not only are lenses often off limits, but Samsung devices often have issues exposing supported frame rates to these apps. FiLMiC Pro couldn't, as of a couple of months ago, record certain frame rates in UHD that the stock camera supports, for example. It may have changed since then - if so, kudos - but this was still the case in 2020 when I last checked. *** Just checked: Max FPS UHD 30FPS, QHD 30FPS, and only one back camera supported... so nothing has changed there. *** If you think I am going to upgrade to a new phone from the same OEM that crippled my current phone (that works "well enough" otherwise) just to recoup these capabilities, then you have truly lost your mind. Don't care about FiLMiC Firstlight, as I can't even recall the last time I took a photo with a smartphone. I don't use smartphones for that, or anything mildly important outside of video recording in the training center.
  • iN8ter - You do know that there are other phones besides Samsung and Apple, right?
    I do mostly still photography, but often record concerts, theatrical, and sporting events. I own the iPhone 11 and XS, and you know what my preferred device is? The HTC U12 Plus. Better still photography detail than any iPhone, equal video stabilization, and audio recording for video that Apple does not have the hardware to do: 24 bit Hi-Res stereo, 3D surround sound, and Sonic Zoom. If Apple upgrades the hardware, they will probably incorporate those features since Apple and HTC have a cross-licensing deal (Live Photos is an HTC product, for example). What Filmic Pro chooses to support is their own choice, and it's always easier to support one phone than thousands, especially with so many of them doing their own thing and Google being difficult. This is why Filmic Pro supports 24, 25, 30, and 240fps on my device, but not 60fps, even though the device does 4k/60fps with stabilization. But to be honest, I mostly use Filmic Pro for anamorphic lenses, and for the being able to pre-define super-slow automatic zoom. The automatic zoom on the U12 is decent, but you cannot change the pull speed. For everything else, I use the stock camera app because the stabilization is better than Filmic Pro.
  • 1. FiLMiC doesn’t support it due to bad Camera2 API implementation. Again, read. The OEM phones do not allow access to those features, so there is nothing they can do about that. 2. This affects most flagships in the Android ecosystem except a Google Pixels (which I’m not buying due to minuscule storage and no expansion) and a very few others. 3. Support matters, and most Android OEMs have piss poor support. 4. Audio is no factor to me. It doesn’t even play back when analyzing the video in Dartfish, cause why would you want it to? 5. I don’t take pictures with phones. You get better photos out of an entry SLR, and I have better. The video recording on the phone is the literally only thing that matters to me, because of the longer battery life and lack of bulk in the training facility. It’s not about iOS and Android. It’s about Apple simply being smarter about how they manage their platform, and this manifesting in better convenience and more predictable functionality for the users. Stock camera is worthless because they removed the feature I bought the phone for. I got the Note9 over the ax’s Max specifically because of Video Pro Mode in the stock camera. It was worth dealing with the worse apps, etc. on Android. They removed it, and now the phone is basically out of support without it having been added back. So I had to make a decision, and I’m not going to lie to myself re: the rationale for it. Don’t care about other Android phones. 98.6% share the exact problems this article points out. Don’t miss the forest through the trees.
  • You kinda missed it buddy: Even with the crutch of Filmic Pro, your iPhone is still not as good.
  • You'll never get photographers to understand the needs of videographers. I feel your pain as I use my phone for video as well. The only phone on the Android side that has full compatibility with Filmic Pro is the Google Pixel and I've faced battery issues with both of the ones that I owned. Apple pushes video and understands the needs of videographers more than any other manufacturer. Hence the reason they teamed up with Filmic Pro to allow the ability to record from multiple cameras at the same time on the 11 Pro which is a big deal. I'm an Android user, and I wish that some of the iOS apps like Lumafusion and Mavis would run on this platform as well but they won't even make a port of their apps due to the same reasons that Moment outlined.
  • This is why I ditched my Note 9 for the iPhone 11 Pro. It’s now just a huge iPod for when I’m doing things or in places that can damage my iPhone or harm the battery. I stopped caring about it when they removed video pro mode and I realized how broken the camera API situation on Android is. Flawless experience on iOS. Never going back.
  • So let me get this right.
    You ditched a phone because it had no pro video mode,
    and went to a phone with no pro video mode?
  • FiLMiC Pro works for others full feature set on iPhone. Not on 99% of Android phones. So the iPhone has a better Pro Mode that I’ll get elsewhere, effectively. i know this is hard to grasp, but if you try hard you will get there. Even orangutans can do math!
  • When people run out of facts, they sometimes start using insults. Please don't be that guy. There's no need for that, at least with me. I own a half dozen iPhones, including XS and 11. I also have separate licenses for Filmic Pro on iOS and Android, which makes it kinda neat because I can use them side by side shooting the same videos. I'm here doing test videos using the iPhone and the HTC, with and without Filmic Pro. Filmic Pro definitely supports more frame rate options on iPhone, and image stabilization in filmic Pro is worse than the stock camera app on both phones. Stabilization in the stock camera app is about the same between the iPhone and the HTC, and a little less jello-like on the HTC. Video image was also slightly crisper on the HTC. At the end of the day, I certainly wouldn't expect anyone to change their ecosystem for a minor difference, even if the results are a bit better on one. The controls work better for you in your environment, the audio and image quality work better for me in my environment. So, I guess it's a draw and we both get to use what we like. Life is good.
  • ---"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."--- I'm not that surprised, to be honest. This is what happened when you let OEM do their own version of Android. That is why iOS and Windows Phone can still perform well despite numerous updates because they didn't let OEM alter the UI or settings to their own liking. I know this because I am a former Android user who switched to Windows Phone as my daily driver to this day. And let's be honest on one thing: Moment exist because of iPhone.