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Google Nexus 5 to get smart GPS-assisted camera module

08 Apr 2013

 

Google's Nexus 5, the upcoming successor to its best-selling Nexus 4 smartphone, could come with a unique feature in its camera module: the ability to fine-tune the camera's settings using information gathered from the internet and the GPS sensor.

Digital cameras frequently feature lots of user-adjustable settings, including the ability to change the light sensitivity, white balance, flash level, focus mode and other controls - but these are usually either hidden from the user or left on fully automatic control. This is particularly true with smartphones: while the camera module in the Nexus 4 allows control of the ISO level, this is unavailable to the user without installing a third-party camera package.

The Nexus 5 will apparently take this one step further - by making the automatic control of camera settings significantly smarter. According to a patent filed by Google and spotted by Pop Herald, the Nexus 5 and its flagship operating system Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie will tie the camera settings in to various sensors on the smartphone to improve images taken in fully automatic scene modes.

The patent explains a system whereby the camera is aware of the user's location - gathered from the smartphone's on-board GPS module - along with weather information downloaded from the internet. Combined with other sensors on the device, including the light sensor used to adjust the brightness of the screen, a temperature sensor and the accelerometer in the handset, these details are used to fine-tune the camera settings to ensure the best possible image quality.

While the clever automatic image modes are no substitute for manual control in the hands of an accomplished photographer, for the majority of users they are likely to produce significantly better results than in a standard smartphone camera - and could help differentiate the Nexus 5 from the competition at launch.

What is not clear from the patent application is whether the feature, which is largely a software rather than hardware implementation, would be exclusive to Google's own-brand Nexus product lines or a standard function of Android 5.0, made available to other Android device manufacturers. With both expected to be unveiled at the Google I/O conference next month, however, Android fans shouldn't have long to wait to see what Google is planning.

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