Android 4.4.1 will massively improve Nexus 5 camera, rolling out in a few days [Update: rolling out now]

December 5, 2013
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android 4.4.1 before and after update

The update to Android 4.4.1 will bring massive improvements to the imaging capabilities of the Nexus 5. According to Google, the update will roll out “over the next few days.”

Talking to The Verge, Director of Engineering for Android Dave Burke said Google’s been working on improving the camera on the Nexus 5 since its launch, with changes aiming to improve image quality and the camera app itself.

Android 4.4.1 will bring faster autofocus times, and generally improve the speed of the camera. By tweaking the firmware, Google was able to “make everything faster” and “fix the motion blur”, says Burke. On Android 4.4, the Nexus 5 is often unable to focus on moving subjects, which results in unwanted motion blur.

The Verge received the firmware update early and was able to test it out. Here’s a test shot of a busy New York street (uploaded on Instagram), that turned out crisp and well-focused.

Bring it on.

The app itself is faster, loading up to a full second quicker than the previous version. To show the user that the app is working in the background, Google added a progress indicator for the HDR+ function. Burke says more changes are coming to the camera app, including to the settings menu, in an effort to make it more intuitive and easy to use.

Thanks to the faster autofocus, it’s now easier to take good images on the first try, says The Verge. Google also made images a little more vibrant and improved contrast. “We just wanted to make photos pop a little more”, explained Burke. Here are a few sample shots that really drive the point home:

The updated app is reportedly still not as good as it could be (autofocus could be even faster, some shots are over processed), but Google is aware of the problems.

Google said the update is coming soon, but offered no details on what Android 4.4.1 will bring to devices other than the Nexus 5. A bevy of bugs have surfaced since KitKat debuted, so there’s a good chance we’ll see fixes to many of them. Stay tuned.

Update: Taking to Google+, Google’s Nexus team has officially announced that the update is rolling out today. As always, expect this to be a staged rollout — so don’t be surprised if it takes a few days to reach your device.

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