How to Install Google Camera (Step by Step)

by | Feb 21, 2019

If you own an Android device and has been to various device forums and tech websites, you might have already heard about Google Camera mods and the hues and cries people are making to get it to work on their device.

If not, here is a brief description of what Google Camera is all about and the advantages it brings to the table for all the hardships you have to go through to install the app.

Google Camera is a proprietary camera application which comes bundled with Pixel devices.

Pixel smartphones are known to provide the best smartphone photography experience even with limited hardware capabilities.

For eg., the photos and videos from the latest Pixel 3 which comes with a single camera easily beat those from dual and triple camera setups from the other expensive flagships phones such as Samsung and Huawei.

It is to be noted that there is a regular version of Google Camera application available in the Play Store which anyone with an Android phone can download, install and use.

But the particular version of Google Camera we’re talking about isn’t available on the Play Store and won’t work out of the box in other phones.

The secret sauce behind the Google Camera

Let’s cut the chase and answer this straightforward – the reason behind the massive improvement in pictures and videos taken from a Google camera over the stock camera app is because of something called computational photography.

Computational photography is a technique involving machine learning to capture the visuals to make it better those results coming just out of the camera sensors.

google-camera-vs-stock-camera

A comparison of photos taken on Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro at 8 PM. Stock Camera vs Google Camera

Google is a tech giant, has the resources and talent for developing the cutting edge algorithms which would automatically enhance the pictures and videos with the help of their proprietary machine learning algorithms.

These M/L algorithms have been trained with millions and billions of photos and videos to extract the information of how should an ideal photo/video should look like.

Roadblocks in installing Google Camera on your device

Google Camera application found on the Pixel devices are proprietary. This means Google has compiled these apk’s just to work on their devices and nothing else.

This is why you get the regular Google Camera even on Android One devices.

There are certain criteria to be met in order to get a Google Camera working on your device.

Camera2 API

API stands for Application Programming Interface.

It’s basically a shortcut provided by an operating system for a third party application to access certain advanced functions.

Camera2 API was introduced by Google way back when they released Android 5.1 Lollipop for developers to build camera applications to utilize the maximum potential of the camera sensors on the Android devices.

Even if it was released almost three years back, many smartphones released even today doesn’t come with the native support for this function.

This is because the OEM decided not to, not because your smartphone isn’t capable of doing advanced imagery.

To give an example, the Redmi Note 5 Pro from Xiaomi is a relatively new handset released in 2018.

It has a very capable dual real camera setup and the processing power and shipped with Android 7 Nougat on board and later got updated to Android 8.1 Oreo.

Somehow Xiaomi decided not to enable Camera2 API on this device, denying the users advanced functions such as manual focus, exposure control and shutter speed within the camera application.

How to check whether your phone supports Camera2 API?

Head over to the play store, type manual Camera compatibility app in the search bar and hit enter.

Download the first app from the result and install.

After the installation is finished, run the app to check Camera2 API compatibility on your smartphone.

If you are fortunate enough to have the compatibility on your smartphone, head over to this link to find out the suitable modded Google Camera version for your smartphone.

If you don’t find your phone model in the list, don’t get disappointed.

Try your luck with a version for a device that has close hardware similarity with your phone.

Chances are high that you’ll get the Camera application working at least partially.

You don’t have the Camera2 API enabled? Fret not!

There are workarounds for this as well.

The only caveat of the available workarounds is that you need the root access on your phone to get the Camera2 API working.

The procedure for rooting each Android phone may be different, but it had been streamlined over time and now it’s as easy as clicking a few on screen buttons.

Step 1:

If you own a popular smartphone, it’s highly possible that there is custom recovery compiled for that device and is readily available online.

Go to twrp.me and find the supported version for your smartphone and flash carefully following the instructions on the site.

Now, turn off the smartphone and try to boot it by pressing the Power button and Vol down button simultaneously to enter the recovery mode. Within a few seconds, you should see the TWRP recovery.

Do note that the button combination to enter recovery mode for different phones vary, so if Power + Vol down doesn’t work, try with Power + Vol up.

twrp-recovery

Now that you have successfully installed TWRP, you can proceed to root the device.

Step 2:

Reboot the phone to the home screen and download the magisk manager apk from here.

magisk-installer

If you have downloaded the file from Chrome while installing the system will ask you whether to allow installing apps from third party sources.

Click OK and install the same.

After installing, open the app, click the Install button on the app and let the system do the rest.

After everything is over, reboot the device. To ensure that your device is rooted, head over to the play store and download root checker application and check the root.

root-checker-redmi-note-5-pro

If everything is all and well, download the Camera2 API enabler magisk module from here .

Now open Magisk manager and click the install button, locate the downloaded file on your local storage and click OK.

The Magisk manager will then install the file and ask you to reboot the device.

Step 3:

Reboot the device and check the manual camera compatibility using this app from Play Store.

Now that you have successfully enabled Camera2 API, you can proceed to install Google Camera App from here and start using it.

Limitations with modded Google Cameras

It has to be noted that each and every Google Camera application won’t have the full compatibility with your device even if you have the Camera 2 API enabled.

There may be bugs and certain features might not work as expected.

However, the basic camera functions such as still photos and videos and even the night mode seem to work on the majority of the devices we have tested.

Conclusion

If you have any doubts regarding the procedure for installing Google Camera on your particular Android phone, let us know in the comment section below.

We’ll be more than happy to help.

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