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Vic Gundotra is wrong about Android photography

Former Google SVP and current AliveCor CEO Vic Gundotra has thoughts on smartphone cameras. The man who was once in charge of Android, and everything else mobile at Google, gifted tech reporters with many a choice quote this weekend.

The iPhone is the only option for taking great photos on a phone. Android is for people who don't mind being a few years behind. Apple's lead in computational photography is what sets it apart. Android by its nature impedes innovation in mobile photography.

Cue headlines.

Gundotra isn't wrong in saying that the iPhone 7 Plus takes great photos. The original photos he posted to Facebook, of two smiling kids in a dark restaurant, captured through the iPhone's portrait mode, are impressive.

Gundotra also talks about computational photography, a major trend in phone cameras right now, and says that — get ready for the juiciest quote of the bunch — he would "NEVER buy an Android phone again" if he cares about photography. Based on his posting history, Vic seems to care quite a lot about photography. So it follows that he's not planning to buy another Android phone ever again. Considering who he is and the positions at Google he once held, that's pretty newsworthy, however flimsy the arguments supporting it might be.

But first, some backstory.

Vic Gundotra vs. Vic Gundotra

People change jobs all the time. The fast pace of change in the tech world means that allegiances can also change rapidly. Nevertheless, the total 180-degree turn that Vic Gundotra has executed on Android photography is worth some examination.

The total 180-degree turn that Vic Gundotra has executed on Android photography is worth noting.

Gundotra worked closely with Steve Jobs on Google apps for the original iPhone before publicly torpedoing Apple (and its CEO) at Google I/O 2010. Here's Vic on open versus closed at the time, in his role as SVP overseeing mobile.

"If Google did not act [with Android], we faced a draconian future — a future where one man, one company, one device, one carrier would be our only choice. That's a future we don't want."

From 2011 to 2013, Gundotra led Google's social efforts. Here he is again in 2013 talking up the prospects for future Nexus cameras on Google+.

"We are committed to making Nexus phones insanely great cameras. Just you wait and see."

Four years later, he's firmly back in the iPhone camp.

"I would NEVER buy an Android phone again if I cared about photography.""If you truly care about great photography, you own an iPhone. If you don't mind being a few years behind, buy an Android."

Life, it seems, comes at you fast.

As noted, Gundotra hasn't worked for Google for four years at this point, and so he's under no obligation to toe the party line anymore.

But it's not his high praise for the iPhone that makes these juxtaposed quotations so jarring, it's the vigor with which he goes after his former employer's platform.

And what makes it all the more strange is that his arguments really don't stand up to much scrutiny in the smartphone ecosystem of 2017.

The problem is not Android

Gundotra draws a tenuous line between Android's open-source nature and its supposed laggardness in photography.

Here is the problem: It's Android. Android is an open source (mostly) operating system that has to be neutral to all parties. This sounds good until you get into the details. Ever wonder why a Samsung phone has a confused and bewildering array of photo options? Should I use the Samsung Camera? Or the Android Camera? Samsung gallery or Google Photos?

Well, for starters, the "Android Camera" app does not exist and never has. (The Google Camera was briefly available on the Play Store, but not anymore. And it was certainly never a required preload on phones from other manufacturers.)

The lack of Google APIs for every single feature didn't stand in the way of image quality, or innovation.

Your Samsung phone will use the Samsung camera app to take photos. That camera app is maintained and updated by Samsung, and tuned to get the best possible photos from whichever Galaxy you own. Just like Apple does for the iPhone.

The Gallery/Photos thing? Yeah, still kind of a mess from a user experience standpoint. But it doesn't impact the photography itself.

It's because when Samsung innovates with the underlying hardware (like a better camera) they have to convince Google to allow that innovation to be surfaced to other applications via the appropriate API. That can take YEARS.

Also true, but also a factor that affects what you can do with your pictures after the fact. Many manufacturers included RAW capture support on Android phones before Google introduced the Camera2 API in Lollipop — they didn't have to wait for Google to act, they could innovate of their own accord.

Google occupies a powerful position as a platform holder, but Android manufacturers have managed to include all kinds of wacky and innovative features on top of the OS, without waiting for Google's code to be updated with new APIs. That includes camera technology, where Android phones have been first with dual-camera systems, multi-frame photography, 4K video recording, 960fps slow-mo, simulated depth-of-field and countless other innovations.

All of these features work great on the devices they're built for. Just like portrait mode on the iPhone.

Also the greatest innovation isn't even happening at the hardware level - it's happening at the computational photography level. (Google was crushing this 5 years ago - they had had "auto awesome" that used AI techniques to automatically remove wrinkles, whiten teeth, add vignetting, etc... but recently Google has fallen back).

Yep, computational photography (and high-quality post-processing in general) is just as, if not more important than top-tier camera hardware specs in 2017. But for someone like Gundotra to say Google has "fallen back" on computational photography is wrong to the point of voluntary ignorance.

Google's own Pixel phone is a case study on how to use computational photography to reach new heights in mobile imaging. The Pixel's HDR+ mode, in development while Gundotra was still as Google as part of the Gcam project, is the very thing he claims Android can't do because of its various limitations. The same applies to multi-frame photography on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and HDR Boost on the HTC U11: computational photography is more than alive and well on Android, it is thriving.

Forget DxOMark scores — many independent photo comparisons, including our own, have placed Android phones with computational photography features, like the Pixel, U11 and Galaxy S8, ahead of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

What's more, outside of smartphone photography, Google is pushing ahead with impressive vision-based systems like Google Lens, announced at this year's I/O keynote. At the same event, we saw cutting-edge demos combining AI and computational photography, where a wire fence could be intelligently removed from a photo of a kid playing baseball.

Google Pixel camera

Gundotra was still at Google while it was pioneering HDR+ through the Gcam project.

Google certainly isn't slowing down, let alone falling back on this kind of thing. For someone who was around when Google was pioneering all this stuff to suggest other wise is just... well, weird.

Apple doesn't have all these constraints. They innovate in the underlying hardware, and just simply update the software with their latest innovations (like portrait mode) and ship it.

Kinda true — Apple controls the entire hardware and software stack — but this is an oversimplification. Portrait mode is never coming to older iPhones, because the hardware can't support it. The "latest innovations" still have to operate within the restrictions of each iPhone's hardware, and broadly speaking there's been no great change in photo quality on iPhones with new iOS releases. (Portrait mode arriving shortly after the 7 Plus's launch is the exception that proves the rule.)

Bottom line: If you truly care about great photography, you own an iPhone. If you don't mind being a few years behind, buy an Android.

In 2013, maybe.

Today, there's no shortage of options if you truly care about great smartphone photography. The iPhone is one of the top offerings. There are many Android phones that can match or even beat it, and many include computational photography features just as impressive as the images Vic Gundotra showcased in his Facebook post.

Far from Android being a few years behind on photography, it seems that it's Gundotra's view of the OS, and the phones that run it, that's out of date.

More: The best smartphone camera, as judged by you

Alex Dobie
Alex Dobie

Alex is global Executive Editor for Android Central, and is usually found in the UK. He has been blogging since before it was called that, and currently most of his time is spent leading video for AC, which involves pointing a camera at phones and speaking words at a microphone. He would just love to hear your thoughts at alex@androidcentral.com, or on the social things at @alexdobie.

116 Comments
  • That's why he is "EX-Googler" and not a current employee!
  • Agree... For this guy to come up now with such a stupid statement it is a clear he is either aiming for a position at Apple, working on a project closely related to it or left Google with a real bad butthurt...
  • I’m not impressed by the whole “end of the DSLR era” statement tbh. Yes, a smartphone can take good photos in most conditions and can even push harder when you know your camera stuff and can take a well-exposed and composed image, then make it look absolutely stunning by taking the DNG and editing it in a RAW processor like Lightroom. But I honestly dislike any comparison of direct raw photo capability between a smartphone and a DSLR, because the MASSIVE difference in sensor size is just too much to overcome. Computational photography will probably help narrow the gap, but until then, let’s just not compare these 2 directly. The smartphone will accomplish what most people will need a camera for, and can be fun for photogs to push to their limit, but if you’re really serious about photography and want the absolute best image quality for your portfolio, you need to step up.
  • It's probably close the end of the consumer DSLR. I only use my Canons for paid gigs. If the photos are for me, they are taken with my phone (currently GS8) and I'm hasn't with them. Admittedly, I tweak them with the Lightroom app, but I tweak my DSLR photos, too. So DSLR isn't going anywhere as of yet, but I feel like it is being pushed more exclusively into the pro and prosumer markets.
  • True, since the DSLR is usually used during photoshoots, but it’s rare for me to find one as a vacation camera, although that’s been the case even during the point-and-shoot days. Although I have been using my Sony a6000 as a primary over the past month or so.
  • Also, lenses.
  • Mmmmmm, fast primes....
  • It's like he hasn't used an Android phone sice the Nexus 5...
  • That's probably exactly rights lol.
  • Except that the Nexus 5 was highly competitive with the iPhone 5S back in the day in terms of picture quality and capabilities, it offered true OIS with HDR+ whereas Apple had it's digital stabilization. There were conditions where either device might outperform the other, but it was generally a toss up. IMO the Nexus 5 was heavily underrated for it's time. Things got really lopsided in favor of Android after that.
  • I don't remember everything about the Nexus 5 and I understand that a camera is only as good as the hands using it, but my Nexus 5 never took good photos. It was awful compared to what I'd always gotten on my S3 and have since gotten on my Note 4.
  • My Nexus 5 took terrible pictures.
  • Not sure what the point of his rant was, it just makes him look uninformed, and made him look even worse when he appealed to his own authority on the subject. Nothing wrong with liking the phone you like, but you fall squarely in the fanboy realm when you lose all rationality on the subject. Seems like the dude even has some fundamental misunderstandings on how modern Android functions in the real world, oh well, give it a day or so and no one will care about this guy again.
  • I’m personally more annoyed by his “end of the DSLR era” statement. Yes, he said “for most people” (even though that’s been true even in the point-and-shoot era) but any statement that compares smartphones favorably against DSLRs without proper reasoning is going to resonate poorly amongst the photography community.
  • Yeah absolutely. I'd say this guy was gunning for an Apple job but I think that ship probably sailed a while ago, and if he is it is kind of a sad attempt. I just think he is uninformed.
  • TBH, now I’m curious on what type of DSLR he owns and whether he uses it in manual mode. The main sin I see with some people is claiming to be a photographer because they have a fancy camera, only to leave it in fully automatic mode.
  • Agree completely. Lots of people can buy a big camera and just press the shutter button, but can't use manual mode because they don't know what white balance or ISO even means... Smartphone cameras will probably replace point and shoot cameras, and already have an impact on that market. But a high end DSLR, in the hands of someone who knows how to use it, is beyond the reach of smartphone capability.
  • DSLR in fully automatic mode in the hands of someone who actually knows how to just focus properly is beyond the reach of smartphone capability. It drives me nuts when phone vs. DSLR comparisons are done and the phone wins but the DSLR portion of the shot being compared is out of focus, never mind all the other things which are possible with a DSLR.
  • d7500 w18-55mm kit lens on auto with pop up flash. Sounds like a pro to me. ;)
  • exactly.
    the 'DSLR' market has always been more pro-sumer, ever since the invention of the SLR... because they has always been a more portable compact easier to use camera that produced decent enough photos for most people.
  • Here's one of his Google+ posts https://plus.google.com/u/0/+VicGundotra/posts/1MgNAck3QA3 He used to post loads of pictures, many taken with Android phones. The one I linked to was taken with an HTC one
  • OMG 2013, he was right then. Today 2017, he is 100% incorrect. Stupid tech blog sites brought up his comments many years later.
  • It's obvious he is trying to get a job at Apple. And tbh I hope the hire him, he is great at running software platforms into the ground...
  • "Bottom line: If you truly care about great photography, you own an iPhone. If you don't mind being a few years behind, buy an Android. In 2013, maybe." Nope. If you cared about great mobile photography in 2013 you'd own a Lumia 1020.
  • lol maybe if you ONLY cared about that, and if you ONLY cared about photography you would buy a camera. Some people want apps and stuff, ya know.
  • In 2013 you could just about survive in the Windows Phone app desert. Nowadays obviously not.
  • Wholeheartedly agree!
  • "Portrait mode" is something Google introduced as "Lens blur" in 2014. The only "improvement" Apple did is using a second camera to get the depth directly instead of having a user to swipe/tilt the phone around the object and calculate the depth from that data.
  • Getting depth data from a second camera module is usually more accurate. The problem I have with Google’s implementation is that it doesn’t work reliably very often and saves a lower resolution image. It’ll take a while for software blur to be refined. Right now, even Apple has some issues with the blurred parts clipping detail.
  • The problem with all blur implementations is its unnatural to what the eye sees. It should be adjustable, in a step by step sequence( less blur at the focal point, to most blur at the outlying edges) . Right now, its almost as if the main subject is in two separate spaces.
  • You, sir, hit the nail right on the head. It just looks really unnatural. Sure, it looks good to the untrained eye but when you’re used to bokeh from a camera with a fast lens attached, it looks really artificial.
  • You should try Huawei/Honor Wide Aperture mode where you can adjust the effect of the background focus not only while taking the shot but also after the shot. IMHO, I quite like their implementation than iPhone's Portrait Mode or S8's Selective Focus mode. Honor/Huawei also have got the name right - Wide Aperture :)
  • I did. Mate 9. It's good when used judiciously but you know someone is going to go overboard.
  • Here are my Honor 8 shots. Need to take this bad boy out for another spin, lol. Missing it lately! - https://photos.app.goo.gl/8dSuFEwliG0d65Mk2
  • The partial color shot is my favorite. But the rake shot is a perfect demonstration for what needs sorting with software blur in the future.
  • Some of the shots look good, when depth is not obvious from anything else but blur. Other shots (all last 3 with the dog and the statue) showcase a terrible implementation for the FOD. Those photos would've been better off without adding the blur in.
  • I agree. While far from perfect - it often has trouble discerning correct depths in similarly colored/lit environments - the Huawei setup does the best job of creating subtlety. Most of the other phones create a rather obvious "here and everywhere else" effect, where the out-of-focus elements are both over blurred and too uniformly blurred.
  • It reminds me of being farsighted, except even that condition has a little subtilty to it, where it's like with this effect is on, off. When your eyes focus, the detail that's left out, is determined by your ability to recognize what's to the left, right, up, or down, and a step by step blend of focus. Bokeh is very fake for this reason, even in video, which is much closer to real, because of movement.
  • And they weren't even the first to use two lenses to achieve that effect, I think their implementation is by the best we have seen, but they are improving on other people's work.
  • Apple is rarely the first to anything. But when the pick-up something - it will typically be the best implementation.
  • strike, " it will typically be the best implementation." and put in, "the best marketed." Fixed.
  • The Portrait mode isn't even the best implementation though, the Huawei dual camera phones are much nicer but still nowhere near what a true DSLR will give.
  • Vic sounds like a man in his 50's that's definitely out of the game. Check out post #83 and #85 that I took with a nexus 5X (lens blur) unedited. I think it pretty much blows his pic (portrait mode) out of the water. https://forums.androidcentral.com/nexus-5x/596766-nexus-5x-camera-shots-...
  • Lens blur is utter crap. It does not practically replace the DSLR if you want bokeh effect. The iPhone 7 does it in a much more acceptable and FAST method. I think Google is giving option to apply enhancements to pictures through Google Photos 'Auto' filtering but it's not there. If you see any picture from the Pixel with Auto HDR blown up to native size - there is a lot of blur/edge jitter (presumably due to the multiple pictures over time that are merged). Apple's implementation gives me better pictures in comparison 9/10 times when I jump to grab a shot of my kids in action.
  • I think you meant to say HTC with the m8.
  • HTC M8. #first
    It wasn't perfect but it worked.
  • No, that's not the same thing at all. The cheap imitation method (ala Google) is to do attempt to mask the main object and do a simple Gaussian blur to everything else. It looks terrible. While Apple's implementation isn't perfect, it's clearly the most realistic bokeh simulation on the market. To do it properly, you need multiple lenses to sense depth. Apple even developed their own blur algorithm to actually simulate the effects of a lens, etc. To even compare the two attempts to solve this problem is laughable.
  • I just read this article on The Verge. https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/1/16074480/dual-camera-phones-2017-best-... The part of particular interest is this:
    "The Google Pixel has been a revolutionary device for mobile imaging because of Google’s shockingly good image-processing algorithms. [...] Google showed that a lot of clever math can result in sharpness and low-light performance leaps ahead of the competition."
  • Everyone is entitled to change their mind, but this flip flopping kinda makes him seem like something of a shill...
  • There's no "something" about it, he's a total shill
  • He should change his name to Scaramucci.
  • Even the iVerger themselves now state that Apple is behind the curve in the camera department. In a shootout with the s8, pixel, and G6, they state that the following: "What surprised me the most is how the iPhone now feels a generation behind. It was harder to see last year when we pit the iPhone 7 against the Pixel and the less capable S7. But the S8, along with the Pixel and the G6, illuminates the extent to which Apple has fallen behind." Has vic even been paying attention for the last few years?
  • It was hard to see with the Pixel, but now it's easy to see with the Pixel?
  • Am I mistaken or isn't this guy developing a wearable product to be used with iOS? Edit: Apple Watch, not iOS
    https://www.recode.net/2016/3/16/11587010/medical-startup-alivecor-bakes...
  • He sounds like a bitter ex-employee.
  • So this guy was fired and really did not want to leave Google.
  • Anyone who owns a Google Pixel knows they take great shots, without any filter. Much better than iPhone 6s (which I also own), and competitive with iPhone 7. This guy worked at Google 3 years ago in Social, and his argument is academic.
  • There's nothing academic about his argument.
  • Yet, the Pixel doesn't approach what you can do with the iPhone 7+ in portrait mode and that's the point of Gundotra's message.
  • Fake Bokeh that gets confused by hair and fur? Portrait mode is terribly overrated. The telephoto lens is very handy, in good lighting (f2.8). Portrait mode? Not so much. I'm sure they'll improve it with updates...
  • Alex was very professional and didn't speculate in his rebuttal, but that doesn't mean that we can't speculate lol. He used to be over Google+, which when he was there included Google photos. A lot of his complaints seem to be with changes that Google has made to the Photos app/experience since he left. Sounds like he's just upset that Google changed "his" product.
  • everyone knows the best camera phone belongs to windows = Lumia 1020 by Nokia lol
  • Not for the past few years
  • Here's the thing about photography: Having a good camera is like having good golf clubs. Having good golf clubs doesn't make me a good golfer just as a good camera doesn't make me a good photographer. It's not about the camera it's about who's holding the camera.
  • I'd wager it's 80% photographer, 20% equipment
  • True, but you start with bad equipment. Tbh you should never get new equipment in any field until you actually understand WHY you need or want new equipment.
  • Pretty much this. I want a full-frame camera, but I can never find the need to have an A7RII.
  • I totally agree with this statement. It's like jumping into something big and you don't even know how to use it lol.
  • My old Samsung GS6 took better photos than my iPhone 7 Plus does...
  • Regardless of which phone you prefer to use for pictures, Vic is 100% wrong when he claims Android photography is years behind iOS. Any modern flagship android smartphone has a great camera nowadays produces as good or better pictures than the iPhone. Case in point, I have a Pixel XL, my brother in law has the iPhone 7 Plus. At family functions when we're both taking pictures, more often than not it's the Pixel XL's photos we choose to share amongst our family members as they are overall better quality than his iPhone. Sure this is very limited experience only comparing 2 phones, but it shows that far from being "years behind", Android phones can take fantastic pictures that the average user prefers over an iPhone.
  • No Bokeh effect, no AR Kit. Case Closed. Android IS 3 years behind the iPhone because Android's fragmentation problem means none of these features are available through Google's APIs on Android.
  • Wow!
    Firstly: The portrait mode on the iPhone 7 Plus is rarely flawless and is not a replacement for a DSLR, especially with that f2.8 aperture the telephoto lens has, therefore not a primary function of the camera. Most my friends/family only use it occasionally but prefer the nicer results of the wide lens, especially at night.
    Secondly: There Are Android phones that have very decent "bokeh" if not on par with the iPhone 7+. And ARKit? I don't think I'm going to bother with you anymore, you're one of those people who would have regurgitated the exact same crud even before ARKit.
    Go back to iMore.
  • I've been using a rooted, modded Galaxy Note 3 since its release. It's currently as an S7 with nougat 7.1 and the S7 edge camera firmware without hiccup. I have noticed a significant improvement in image quality, crispness, low light capabilities, and video capture, and was very impressed with manual focus, 60 fps and 4k video capture. I was mpressed enough with all the improvements, I challenged my son to head to head shoot out with my son and his iPhone 6s + . Admittedly, there are a couple of 'features' on the iPhone that are hard to beat, but my modded Note 3 was the clear winner when it came to RAW image capture in all modes. For motion stability reasons only, I still favor DSLR for intentional shooting projects, but have come to rely on the note3 more and more. Hope this adds to the discussion.
  • Someone ported the S7 software to the note 3? Damn
  • Yep. Actually, there are quite a few ports out there, most can be found on the XDA foeums.
    XDA can be a bit overwhelming to navigate, but if you dig in, you can find just about any root, kernel, or ROM mod you'd ever want. Even the S8 ROM is being worked on, and next year, and modders are already mapping out the note8. I got off the 'buy a new phone every two year's' train a few years ago and couldn't be happier. Why 'buy' a new phone when you can upgrade for free?
  • The software sounds cool, but your Note 3 doesn't have the same sensor as an S7. So it's more like a GS4 with the S7 software.
  • Dunno mate. Check the comparison: http://m.gsmarena.com/compare.php3?idPhone1=5665&idPhone2=8082
  • Alex - Nice breakdown on the subject.
  • Apologize for the grammar errors. I switched to Gboard this morning, and it's still learning my typing habits. :-)
  • The Android Central app works really well for editing posts.
  • It's a long time since the geekosphere talked about him. Now, he spread some news and here we go, he trades a lot of crap for a lot of buzz. Maybe someone ought to point him to this site : https://www.dxomark.com/Mobiles
    The first iphone ranks 13th. Not bad for an Apple...
  • DXOMark haven't tested the dual-camera iPhone 7 Plus yet (bit slow aren't they?) - it's a lot higher quality than pretty much every other mobile camera in terms of quality as well as boasting a telephoto lens.
  • They have however, tested the standard iPhone 7 which shares the exact same camera hardware minus the telephoto lens. And it scored below most flagships. Including other dual camera devices.
  • But if never Android had any good photography algorithm of post processing of good quality prove of that is the lower end phones and tablets that have stock Android Camera and their results are very bad, also between the iPhone and the deceased Windows both have better image processing than Android stock camera
  • Is that English?
  • Didn't enjoyed the article. The author could argue against Gundotra position without wasting a third of the text attacking his credibility. In the end, it seems biased and thus weakens the argument in favor of Android's photography.
  • Why do folks type raw files as RAW files, raw is not an acronym. A raw files it is not any different than raw meat, raw veggies, raw bruise, or raw anything. Raw is simply the word raw meaning unprocessed, not cooked, and the like, as in a raw digital file. JPG, JPEG, TIFF, and the like are acronyms, raw is not. Type raw as RAW is a mindless monkey see monkey do without thinking why they are typing raw as RAW. Regardless how you justify raw as RAW it is incorrect. Typing raw as RAW does not bring raw more value.
  • raw.... All better now? Somehow, I think you've missed the point of the discussion.
  • This causes you that much distress? I want your life if this is such a significant annoyance.
  • Who cares? Technically, you are incorrect as well. Acronyms are abbreviations that spell pronounceable words, like LASER (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) or BASIC (Beginners All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code). JPG, JPEG and TIFF are technically not acronyms.
  • Um, I hesitate to mention it, but JPEG *is* an acronym that stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. TIFF is also an acronym: Tagged Image File Format.
  • They aren't words. That's the point. They are initialisms, not acronyms.
  • Ahem, you might like to look up the definition of acronym... just saying. acronym
    noun
    an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word (e.g. ASCII, NASA ).
  • Burn.....
  • Just came here for the 😆 laughs, not disappointed, at all, from the author on down. Oh, and I have a Pixel XL and a 7 Plus. The Pixel takes better regular photos and I love the 2X reach on the 7 plus, so that’s that. This guy does seem like he does a lot of flip flopping, and really hardcore flip flopping at that. I really don’t think I’d concern myself too much with anything this guy has to say. Lol. 😆
  • Actually Vic is correct, no matter how fancy new camera hardware is, third party Android apps can't make use of it until Google adds those features into the Android APIs. You're thus limited to using the stock camera app that comes with that phone to get all the new features. Bad luck using all your other Android apps that use the Android camera APIs.
  • Do third party apps on iPhone have access to Portrait Mode and other goodies?
  • Yes, Apple is opening up the the depth API, etc. for portrait mode in iOS 11.
  • Thankfully most Android flagships don't need third party apps to make full use of their camera. RAW, Manual Mode, all that jazz, accessible from the native camera apps. Especially LG, they have the most powerful native camera app on any smartphone currently.
  • He is loyal to whoever writes out his pay cheque.
  • Spot on. He is only interested in advancing his career and will arse lick whomever to get there.
  • Please stop being mean to poor Vic Gundotra. He just proved that men too get their periods and they too suffer from menopause. And in the case of men, it's Much Worse. This guy is proof of it. And it does probably help that he will start his professional photography career with his iPhone instead of a DSLR. He also has b@lls. Or a complete lack of brains.
  • He's right, and it's just not about photography, either. Download an App like Coach's Eye or Dartfish Express on different Android flagships. How many give you an option for 120-240 FPS capture? On most Android phones, the apps will capture 30FPS 720 or 1080p video. When Apple introduced HFR Video Capture, the APIs were in place from Day One. An App queries the device capabilities and it just gives you a list of all HFR modes it supports (720p 30/60/120/240 FPS, 1080p 30/60/120 FPS, 4K 30 FPS on an iPhone 7+). For older iPhones, you get access to the modes supported on that device. Google didn't do this in Android, so even though a device's camera may support the better capture modes, the software often has no way of knowing this... This causes developers to only support a subset of devices, instead of just querying every device via an API and letting the user choose from the modes it supports. RAW Capture is another thing that was available from Day One when Apple added this, while it took a year or more for it to be added by Google into the base Android distribution. I don't think the iPhone is fundamentally better than most (or even many) Android flagships (except in Slow Mo Video, Panoramas and Portrait Mode shots... nothing bests it there), but Apple certainly is a lot more organized on the platform level than Google is at rolling features out and making sure that the API coverage roughly matches their innovation pace in these areas. ARKit is another area where we see this happening; developers are already playing around with it.
  • I understand the desire to come back with a knee-jerk response. Afterall, Gundotra's comments are often polarizing and a bit sensational. However, there is a kernel of truth in what he's saying.
    As we move to an era where multiple lenses becomes common place and we rely more heavily on computational computing, this sort of future plays favorably to Apple's vertical integration model. Google is very competent at software, but they can't possibly optimize for every third party solution that will be made available. Third party OEMs are great for trying new and different things, but they have a terrible track record regarding software quality. That's why Apple's dual lens camera is currently yielding better results than similar devices (with possibly better camera hardware) from other vendors... at least in portrait mode which relies heavily on computational photography.
    The point being, were going to see more of this trend in the future an multiple lenses will eventually be common to all phones. Apple will have a competitive advantage here. That doesn't mean that Android phones won't be competitive in this area... they will. They're just fighting an uphill battle.
  • And there is no way a Note 3 was beating an iPhone 6s+ in a Photography Shootout, regardless of what software you were running. The Note 3's Optics are woefully out of date. There is only so much you can do with FW and Camera Software. Upload full resolution source images with EXIF if you want to be taken seriously with those claims. Note 3 to Note 4 was one of the biggest camera quality upgrades that Samsung did in the past. It was a HUGE upgrade. Way bigger than S4 to S5, IMO, and the 6s+ is clearly better than the Note 4. Samsung's image processing also leaves much to be desired, but that's a topic for another thread...
  • Agreed. There is really no reason to upgrade to the 7 from the 6s. I have used both, and the 6s is FINE. For IMAGES....not speed shooting, or whatever, but for taking IMAGES.....nothing in the phone world comes close to the 1020. the sensor and processing engine is amazing in that phone. It is SLOW however, but other than that it is still the best imaging from any phone to date.
  • I also find it hard to take people seriously when they say things like "much better than the iPhone 6s I owned, and almost on par with the 7." The 6s to 7 is a rather small camera upgrade, IMO, having owned the past 3 iPhone Plus models. The camera is not a reason to even consider upgrading form a 6s to a 7, especially a non-Plus 7... 3D Touch was pretty much the only reason to do it...
  • So having a dual camera with separate 2x optical telephoto and wide-angle lenses and the amazing Bokeh effect along with much improved low light performance, (larger f/1.8 aperture and six-element lens allowing the cameras to suck in 50% more light than their predecessors), wider colour gamut, etc is a "small camera" upgrade? Okaaaay.... *rolls eyes*
  • "Amazing" bokeh effect? Maybe you need to view those images on a decent display other than the 1080p screen on that phone off yours. Look at the edges, even in Vic's photo. It's pretty hit-or-miss...
  • tbh, whatever floats his boat lol. I wouldn't take it personal because everyone has their style, equipment, and how they post process. I enjoy my Samsung s8plus camera at times when I don't carry around my DSLR. I agree that his statement could be a bit bitter against android photography.
  • I just found this fabulous camera app in playstore a few hours ago. Free, ad free, open source.(there is a separate donate app, and other ways to donate, but he's only asking $1.99). https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.anrdoezrs.net%2F... And before that, Google Snapseed photos editor caught my eye. Again, another free offering. Frankly, I'm amazed at how complicated Android photography has become. That's not a complaint, but praise. And Google is working on something truly revolutionary right now. I read this article this morning, which is why I went looking at photography apps. http://www.zdnet.com/article/google-mits-ai-instantly-fixes-your-smartph...
  • majority of these taken with either a V10 Or a G4
    https://www.eyeem.com/search?marketStatus=commercial&q=Shawn+Reichle&sor...
    I think It depends on How and What you are taking pictures of as well as personal taste I prefer how things look In photos taken with An LG Phone versus Apple product
  • The iPhone IS years ahead when it comes to making all these fantastic new computational photography features like Bokeh and AR kit available to all apps through the API. That is Vic's point. Where is the equivalent of AR kit for Android? Google's Tango is stillborn because Android devices are so fragmented that Google can't provide AR to all Android devices because they don't all have consistent high-end hardware and software.
  • Read Vic's whole rant. You're way off. ARKit? Google is more focused on VR. But good on Apple for trying something new. We'll see how it turns out. Also the Bokeh effect works more accurately on the HTC One M8 from 2014 despite having a relatively average camera in general. Same with Huawei's dual-camera phones.
  • VIC, he`s wrong in a way, Android OS, never been controlled 100% by Android as Apple. He needs to remember Apple never licensed their IOS to other phones make like Android.
    I have had iPhone 6S Plus and 7 to I find Nexus 6P picture has better details more the iPhones in most areas. I`ll never put an iPhones in my pocket again.
    I have H11 and I love it.
  • Is there a single camera app in Play store, which gives all the computational goodness (of Pixel and iPhone) to phones with camera 2 API?
    HDR by stacking, low-light photos (low noise and good details without tripod) and fast start-up. Median stacking and raw are pretty much in "no time for that" category...