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To everyone who wants a mini-DSLR on their older Android device, check out Google’s KitKat camera. Unfortunately, only the latest devices can get it. For those with older gadgets,  I bring great news: You can install the app on any Jelly Bean device. It only requires a few extra special steps.

The new camera app possess a variety of great features Three Secret Features Of Google’s New Camera App That Will Blow Your Mind Three Secret Features Of Google’s New Camera App That Will Blow Your Mind Google’s recent update to the KitKat camera app boasts a few secret abilities, including an accidental tilt-shift effect, 3D image capability and something of a wide-angle effect. Read More , some hidden and some overt — including a timer, Photosphere, tilt-shift, wide-angle shots and Lens Blur (and 3D images). As an aside, as far as I know, no app effectively shoots Photosphere – which is by far the most useful feature of Google’s camera app. Photosphere, as I’ve written prior, enables wide-angle shots.

On the downside, it’s not perfect. The app can suffer from bugginess: On some devices, it crashes. Fortunately, a few potential fixes exist. If you do decide to install the app, it’s strictly at your own risk.

Install the KitKat Google Camera

photosphere on the transformer

Your Android device must possess a gyroscopic sensor, which Google Camera uses to shoot Photosphere, wide-angle shots, lens blur and 3D images. For everyone on Android 4.2 or lower, you will require root access. Additionally, the app comes from outside the Play Store, so you will need to enable Android’s “Unknown sources” feature (see below).

Root Access

Again, you only need root access on Android 4.2 (and perhaps earlier editions). Acquiring root access differs from device to device. The rooting process sometimes causes damage. For this reason, I suggest installing the much lower risk 4.3 Google Camera app. However, those aware of the risks may wish to attempt installing the Android 4.4 camera app.

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For tips on getting rooted, read our guide to rooting Android.

Gyroscopic Sensor

Before proceeding, verify whether or not your phone contains a gyroscopic sensor. I suggest installing the open source Sensor Readout. Sensor Readout will not only provide a list of the functional sensors onboard your device, it also indicates if the sensor functions properly.

Just scroll down and find the entry for “Gyroscope” and click on it. After that, you’ll see the sensor’s measurements, indicated in a waveform.

gyroscope sensor

Unknown Sources

This requirement just requires that you go into Settings -> Security and then check the box for “Unknown sources”. After this, you can install apps from outside the Play Store.

configuration for unknown devices in android

Download and Install

The download hails from El Android Libre (original XDA thread), receiving a translation from XDA Senior Developer :No-Frost:. For those with devices older than 4.3, it also requires root access. Because the app also comes from an unknown source, you must also enable “Unknown sources” (see above for directions). None of the steps involved are destructive, but even so, make sure you don’t brick your device 6 Key Tips To Avoid Bricking Your Rooted Android Device 6 Key Tips To Avoid Bricking Your Rooted Android Device When you own a rooted Android phone running a custom ROM, you need to take some precautions or risk "bricking" (destroying) your device. Read More .

Remain aware that installing an application from outside of the Play Store exposes you to malicious attackers. Because the KiKat Google Camera app requires root access, it magnifies the threat. Rooted devices, by their definition, lack security. Although the developer who recompiled/translated the app is well-known, this threat still exists. You were warned.

You can now do everything covered in our Google Camera walkthrough Google Camera: The Official Vision for An Android Camera App Google Camera: The Official Vision for An Android Camera App Today I'd like to tell you about a camera app that doesn't do very much -- by design. You should still try it, though, because it comes direct from Google. Read More .

Unfortunately, if you own an Android device older than 4.3, you will need to copy three “library” files, pulled from later versions of Android. These files inhabit this zipped archive. Again, these come from a source outside the Play Store, so install them at your own risk.

Simply download the zipped archive containing the library files. Unzip the archive and copy the three files inside, one-by-one, using a root-capable file manager (such as Root Browser), or ADB, into the following directory: system/lib

system lib

Then reboot your phone. With the new libraries installed, Google Camera should work on older phones. If installed incorrectly, though, the Photosphere feature won’t work.

If you can’t get the Google Camera working, there are two other options for getting Photosphere — one of the big features in Google Camera — a beta app that includes an open-source implementation of Photosphere.

Alternatively, if you have a custom recovery installed, there’ s a flashable .ZIP package. This is actually a much easier method than manually installing the APK.

Installing Focal (Beta)

For everyone else, you can install Focal from the Play Store, which uses an open source implementation of the Google Camera Photosphere function and should run on any device running Android 4.1 and up. Unfortunately, it didn’t work on any device that I tested it on. If developers get it working, it will bring wide-angle photography to cameras everywhere — if they contain a gyroscopic sensor. Still, give it a shot for your device and see how it works.

focal image demonstration

Preventing Crashes

Because these apps weren’t designed to run outside of Android 4.4, they may suffer from instability. If this occurs, there’s a handful of measures that users can take to reduce crashes.

  • Wipe Google Camera’s cache: Just go into Settings -> Apps and find the Google Camera app. You can wipe both the app’s data and its cache.
  • Uninstall and reinstall: Uninstalling and reinstalling sometimes fixes crash issues.

Unfortunately, if wiping the cache and reinstalling fail to work, you will not be able to use the latest build of Google Camera. However, you could always try installing a custom ROM How to Find and Install a Custom ROM for Your Android Device How to Find and Install a Custom ROM for Your Android Device Android is super customizable, but to fully take advantage of that, you need to flash a custom ROM. Here's how to do that. Read More that is built on KitKat!

Anyone have any luck? I got Photosphere partially working on a Asus Transformer and a Zopo ZP998. Both are on Android 4.2. Let us know what devices you have and if you managed to get either app working!

Image Credits: jelly beans Via Shutterstock

  1. Pablo Collazos
    September 28, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    Does anyone know the angles that the Google Camera works with, to make the Photospheres??

    • Kannon Yamada
      October 10, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      To make a partial photosphere, you just need to angle the phone from a single location, without moving your feet. You just look on the screen of your phone (which functions as a viewfinder) and make sure the on-screen sphere is centered on the on-screen circle. If you hold it over the circle for a second, it takes a picture and you can move onto the next sphere, repeating the process. You can pivot, but not change the altitude of the camera.

  2. vinay
    May 13, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    hey does it work on my Xperia my dual jb 4.3 my on stock rom and full root.acess

    • Kannon Y
      May 17, 2015 at 2:06 am

      I don't have an Xperia, unfortunately. It might, there's no reason why it wouldn't.

  3. nathan
    April 26, 2015 at 8:08 am

    I cant download it for some reason

  4. Samyadeep
    January 30, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    photoshpere works perfectly but i want lens blur feature which is missing
    device : xiaomi redmi note

  5. Amit
    August 7, 2014 at 7:43 am

    Photosphere working perfectly without adding any files but no lens blur

  6. Amit
    August 7, 2014 at 7:23 am

    Apk given in ur article works great for me with no crashes and nothing htc villec2 custom rom but where's the lens blur effect I don't see in apk given in article I will download the app given in comment box and see if it has blur effect and tell u if that works

  7. Graham Wheeler
    June 22, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Limited features available on the Galaxy S3 the Photosphere works great and the new gallery is a nice addition though. As with previous post no blur option or any other advanced features

    • Kannon Y
      June 23, 2014 at 1:49 am

      Thanks for letting us know Graham!

  8. Casa Del G
    June 21, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    I installed the APK on my AT&T S4 and it is not the same camera app as is shown in your walkthough. WTF? There is no sign of lens blur or photosphere.

    • Kannon Y
      June 21, 2014 at 7:01 pm

      I'm really sorry. According to the developers who localized the photosphere app, on Samsung devices, it doesn't replace the baked in camera app. Instead, it's a second camera app and gallery, which need to be launched instead of the Samsung app.

      And then, on top of that, it's reported that Photosphere has lots of bugs in Samsung devices. A blogger reported on it here:

      http://mobinomad.blogspot.com/2014/01/android-43-why-no-photosphere.html

      I'm not sure if Lens Blur will work, either, on Samsung devices. It has to do with the proprietary libraries that Samsung installs. Hopefully it will work on the S4, though. Good luck!

  9. Mel
    June 19, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Not to crap your thread, but I don't know where else to report this, so I am responding to the most recent post on MUO. Your RSS feed stopped working for me at sometime on 16th of June. I am using an on-line RSS reader called newsblur if it is relevant. I am getting all my other RSS feeds on this platform, without any problems. But MUO feed is not updating.
    FYI

    • Kannon Y
      June 19, 2014 at 9:55 pm

      Hey Mel, I'm really sorry about the feeds not updating.

      I just checked on several devices - our RSS feed is functioning apparently fine. I suspect that either the feed service that you're reading is having issues (Feedly is currently under DDOS attack) or perhaps the feed link itself has been deprecated.

      Here's the link that's been working for me:

      http://feeds.feedburner.com/makeuseof.rss

  10. Marek Lukáš
    June 19, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Also I can't use the Focal because the gyroscope (which I have) doesn't seem to work in it. In Photosphere mode it uses only the accelerometer so it's REALLY unprecise. I'm already using the 4.3 Google Camera app but I want the updated one ;-)

    • Kannon Y
      June 19, 2014 at 7:39 pm

      I had a very similar issue with Focal. It's an open-source app, though, so we should see improvement over time. Right now I suspect that some phones invert the data pulled from the gyroscopic sensors, which explains the bizarre behavior that I experienced.

      How did you get the 4.3 camera on your device? In order to get it working properly, you also need to copy the library files (check above for the library files) into your system/lib directory.

  11. Marek Lukáš
    June 19, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    OK, I have rooted Galaxy S2 with Stock 4.1.2 rom. Which apk should I download for the latest Kitkat Camera?

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