Spend a few minutes in the Google Play Store, and you’re sure to trip over at least a few different camera applications. Today we can add yet another to the list with the iOS favorite Camera Awesome now officially available on Google Play. The app was created by SmugMug, an online service that provides for the storing and sharing off photos on the web. Camera Awesome takes SmugMug’s photo know-how and creates a wonderfully useful app for Android smartphones or tablets.
In my short time with the app, Camera Awesome has already managed to stand out from the rest. Aside from performance (pictures are saved the instant you tap the shutter button), Camera Awesome also gives Android users a ridiculous amount of control over the camera functions of their device. Sure many manufacturer UI’s feature pretty robust software features, but Camera Awesome squeezed in a few I’ve been dying for, especially on a Nexus.
Features, performance, and features
The first trick is the ability to select different focal and exposure points in the viewfinder. Where tapping on the screen will combine focus and exposure specifically on where you touched, using a 2-finger tap will separate focus and exposure allowing for more freedom. Both the focus and exposure can further be locked, holding onto whatever is currently focused or exposed in the viewfinder. Top notch feature right there.
Of course, standard manual controls of your ISO, white balance, and exposure exist, along with a full screen shutter button, burst shot, HDR mode, timer, and panorama. Interval mode is a fun feature that could be extremely useful at parties or events where it’s possible to set up your smartphone or tablet as a makeshift photo booth.
The video mode also has a neat trick. When using the Pre-record mode, Camera Awesome begins recording footage before the record button is ever pressed. This acts as a sort of buffer, giving users a few extra seconds of video footage they might have otherwise missed.
The only place where the app truly falls short is in Camera Awesome’s UI, using recycled skeuomorphic graphics from its iOS counterpart. We wouldn’t even have faulted them providing the app was at least updated to iOS 7’s visual design guidelines (at least those look a little more “Android”). SmugMug has been taking a lot of heat for this in various forums online, and hopefully this will be addressed in a future update. If not, it’s not like having iOS buttons takes too much away from the app where I’ll still be able to shoot the hell out of my lunch and post to Instagram.
Lastly, Camera Awesome is only available for a number of hot Android devices. So, those of you with something more obscure will no doubt be left in the cold. Those who own an HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3, Note 2 or 3, Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, Moto X or Kindle Fires — you’re all in luck. Given this is an initial release, the app was a little buggy but we’re sure will be patched up soon. The developer also mentioned that Nexus 5 support is coming in the future, making the app a no-brainer for those stuck with Android’s limited stock camera software.
Where the iOS version was free but offered premium features via in-app purchases, developer SmugMug has included all the paid filters and features into the paid Android app for only $3 up front. You can download Camera Awesome right now in the Google Play Store via the link below.