Are Android Cameras the Future?

This is a sponsored post, but all opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Samsung Galaxy CameraJason Evangelho, the “Games Technician” for Forbes.com, recently acquired a Samsung Galaxy Camera. For those of you who understandably associate the Samsung Galaxy brand with smartphones, tablets, and a growing class of devices being referred to as phablets — something of a hybrid between smartphones and tablets — you may be wondering if I mistyped the product’s name. Fortunately, I haven’t. Samsung is indeed incorporating some of the Galaxy brand’s more outstanding features into its latest crop of consumer cameras — most notably, its Android software. So are Android cameras the future?

“Having a robust mobile OS on your camera comes with distinct advantages and drawbacks,” Evangelho points out. “For socially connected shutterbugs, the ability to instantly share and upload special moments in time as they happen isn’t just convenient, it’s addictive. However, relying on Android as the user interface is a double-edged sword. While the UI can be instantly learned by anyone who owns a smartphone, users also have to suffer through a short battery life and the extended startup time of the operating system.”

Though I agree with Mr. Evangelho’s assessment about the advantages of having an operating system that enables users to keep exercising their social networking habits, I’m not certain the shortened battery life will be a problem for most. Smartphones with cameras — which is just about any smartphone these days — drain batteries rapidly due to a variety of uses, including using the device as its namesake (a phone). Cameras that will not have a phone included — at least, not any tied to a cellular network — will have the advantage of having longer lasting batteries. Yes, I could be wrong about this, since Android cameras will likely evolve to include a number of addictive applications that aren’t currently being developed. But for now, the particular advantage of a Samsung camera is that it is a camera first, with its Skype or Google Talk-enabling data connection being a secondary application.

I hinted at the new applications we’re certain to see developed for Android-based cameras as they become more popular. Android is already, by some reports, beginning to outclass iOS as the cool kid on campuses across the US. Android, unlike iOS, is an easily modified operating system, and even though some of the most popular camera apps (such as Instagram) first appeared on iPhones and iPod touches, there’s a good chance that this trend is on its way to being reversed.

Perhaps the most obvious advantage to having a Galaxy Camera is that the device is sure to include a camera that is vastly improved over what you’ll find in typical smartphones. Some of the higher-end smartphones have some very good cameras — particularly the Samsung Galaxy lineup. Yet the form factor of a smartphone still leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to using the device as a camera. Though camera functionality has improved immensely over the years, I still find myself fumbling a bit before I can take a picture, and I often miss the moment I’d intended to capture. Sometimes I even drop the phone as I’m trying to orient the device to landscape or portrait mode. Smartphones simply aren’t the ideal consumer cameras. They’re fantastic due to their portability, but a good ol’ digital camera is still currently the best form factor for the person who really enjoys taking pictures.

Finally, I doubt there’s a better camera software UX (user experience) than what’s found on smartphones. The camera UX on Android-based smartphones blows the lid off of the generic menu-driven user experience of the vast majority of consumer cameras. Sure, truly professional DSLR cameras have a decent UX, but consumer cameras up to this point seem far less focused on providing much more than the minimal user experience a consumer will tolerate. Digital camera UX has sorely needed an overhaul for quite some time, and with these new Samsung Galaxy Cameras, we’re finally getting a taste of a manufacturer paying attention to how digital camera users would like to capture, manage, and share their images.

Do you agree? Are Android cameras the future?

Image: Samsung

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Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.