▲ ▼ Capturing good photos from any phone
I don't take pictures to post to social networks often, so I run my phone until software updates are available, as cameras are usually the only distinguishing feature even among flagships.
But, when I do take a photograph (usually insects, birds and animals) I would like the picture to be good. But, it is rarely the case as only few smartphone manufacturers have got the knack of capturing good photographs even though the hardware (sensor, lens, processor) are the same.
Their secret sauce lies in the machine learning powered image processing software, as spectacularly demonstrated by Google with their pixel lineup of phones and few other manufacturers.
So why not take that software to the cloud and let anyone get good quality photographs from any mobile? All current smartphones can capture images in RAW format, with better Internet bandwidth on the phone, a RAW format image can be uploaded to the cloud for ML - image processing while a lower quality JPEG can be displayed on the phone. Once processed, higher quality pictures can be shared to the social network or downloaded.
I think a phone camera app with this service can fill a large need gap of getting good photos on any phone.
This does seem like a large need gap, considering newer smartphones are camera first and phone later why hasn't phone manufacturers addressed this so far?
I think the main reason is the 'instantaneous culture', when we capture a picture on our smartphone we want it to be good enough to be posted to Instagram, Facebook immediately; image enhancement over cloud adds too much latency and is dependent upon variables such as network. Leading brands have figured out taking good pictures without doing that with a combination of algorithms(image enhancement neural networks) and processing power (CPU, image processing co-processor).
But still, not all manufacturers have caught up even with the similar hardware due to their lack of expertise with the software side of the things. Hence I think there is a need gap to be filled here.
I may not be alone, Adobe recently hired Marc Levoy, who's responsible for the software behind Google's pixel camera supposedly to develop a universal camera app. I'm not sure whether they would use cloud for their computational photography, although it does make lot of business sense to Adobe.
I feel the need gap is large enough for several players, also image enhancement neural networks are fairly public knowledge nowadays and so there's not much a barrier to entry here.
I found the article about Marc Levoy you were telling about- https://www.theverge.com/2020/7/20/21331331/google-pixel-camera-app-lead-adobe-marc-levoy .
I like the idea of the camera app taking good pictures and me not having to change my phone every year just for better pictures!
I would too, interestingly it's much easier for Instagram to just enable RAW format upload and do the image enhancement than Adobe or some other player to bring in a new product/service to the market.