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Everyone Must Steal Google's New Camera Feature


By directly lifting one simple feature in Google's newly revamped camera app, tech giants have the power to change the entire online video landscape for the better.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF), and every other leading manufacturer tasked with designing default camera software for a smartphone: We pray you saw what Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) just did.
Last week, Google released a newly revamped version of its official camera app in the Google Play Store. It was a notable release for the app as previous versions had always come bundled with the Android OS, only allowing for updates when there was an entire over-the-air platform upgrade -- which occur far more infrequently than individual app updates and aren't subjected to sluggish approval by carriers and manufacturers. But following in the footsteps of other stock apps like Google Keyboard and Google Calendar, the Camera app can be updated independently of OTA Android upgrades.
But that's not the most important feature.
The camera app also comes equipped with a new lens blur effect that lets users capture photos and choose the focal point after the fact, creating a look similar to an SLR camera. After selecting the effect and snapping a photo, the app asks the user to slowly raise the device while keeping the foreground subject centered in the shot. The software estimates the depth of every subject in the shot and asks the user to choose the focal point, simulating a shallow depth-of-field (known as bokeh) by blurring everything else.

Unlike the new HTC One M8 (TPE:2498) -- which creates a similar lens blur effect via a depth of field sensor near the rear-facing camera -- smartphones with lower-grade cameras can instantly improve the look of their photos.
But that's not the most important feature either.
Amidst the newly updated interface and whiz-bang lens blur effect, is a very small, very simple feature, but its impact could effectively change the online video landscape if other developers and manufacturers outright steal it.
The new Google Camera app reminds users to not shoot video when holding their smartphone in a vertical portrait position. When in video mode and held vertically, an icon pops up on screen with circular arrows directing the device to be held correctly, i.e. horizontally. Once shifted, the icon disappears and the screen returns to normal.


The importance of this decision cannot be underestimated. This tiny feature has the power to destroy every awkwardly shot, improperly letterboxed video on YouTube going forward -- as long as others follow suit.
Just think: No longer will two-thirds of the screen be covered by black bars because someone didn't know phones should be held sideways when shooting videos. No longer will shots be confined to a single person from head to toe rather than a medium shot of two or three onscreen subjects. And no longer will local news outlets be forced to air amateur footage with the screen stretched and compressed to fill a 16:9 aspect ratio.
This feature needs to be universal. Every smartphone manufacturer and developer of video apps must steal it.
It's too important not to.
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