Yesterday, Google – in association with Samsung and HTC – released the Google Play editions of the Galaxy S4 and HTC One. Hardware-wise, these phones are exactly the same as their skinned counterparts running Touchwiz/HTC Sense, but it’s the software side where things get really interesting as these devices eschew proprietary skins for stock Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Technically, this isn’t 100% pure stock Android 4.2, as it includes the updated camera app that is supposed to be a part of Android 4.3. Thanks to the Android enthusiasts’ community, this new camera app is now available for other Android devices as well. Details after the jump!
The camera app running on Google Play editions of the S4 and One has a thoughtfully tweaked user interface. The radial menu that previously showed customization options both above and below the point of input, now shows them above said point only. This makes good sense since in the previous version, the bottom row of options would get hidden by the user’s thumb. You can see the difference in the comparison below:
As you can see, you now get controls placed in a better layout and position, and tapping expandable controls shows you the underlying next level of controls in the same manner as well.
In addition to the new user interface, the app also allows you to snap photos using the Volume control buttons. If the new user interface doesn’t give you enough motivation for you to install the app, this small but immensely useful feature surely will.
If you are interested in testing the new Camera app out, you are in luck! The ever-vibrant Android community has been able to extract the app from one of the Google Play edition smartphones, and has released it online.
To install the app, download the app’s APK from the first post of the XDA thread link provided at the end of this post, and install it as you would normally install any APK (after enabling ‘Unknown sources’ from Settings > Security). On Nexus devices, this will replace the Camera and Gallery apps while for other smartphones, the app will install normally alongside all your other apps. One last thing you should know: we have seen reports online of this camera app causing Photosphere to stop working for some people, so keep that in mind before you install the APK. On the bright side, you can always uninstall it by going to Settings > Apps > All, selecting Gallery and tapping ‘Uninstall updates’ to roll back to the previous version.
Of course, if you prefer the official thing, you will either have to grab one of the Google Edition phones, or wait till Android 4.3 makes its way to your phone. This new UI was first showcased when a Nexus 4 was spotted running Android 4.3 with the camera app open at a mobile expo in Thailand.
If you do try out the new camera app, be sure to let us know how it worked out for you by leaving a comment below.