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Former Google exec Vic Gundotra praises Apple iPhone 7 Plus camera, says Android photography years behind

Former chief of Android Vic Gundotra praised Apple for its camera on the iPhone 7 Plus, and panned the Android ecosystem for a slow march in photography technology because of how innovations need to propagate across the entire codebase.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, accompanied with pictures that Gundotra took, the ex-Google executive called Android the problem for the reason it takes time it takes for new breakthroughs by companies like Samsung to get wide adoption — and even afterwards, confusion may reign.

Gundotra said:

Here is the problem: It's Android. Android is an open source (mostly) operating system that has to be neutral to all parties. This sounds good until you get into the details. Ever wonder why a Samsung phone has a confused and bewildering array of photo options? Should I use the Samsung Camera? Or the Android Camera? Samsung gallery or Google Photos?

It's because when Samsung innovates with the underlying hardware (like a better camera) they have to convince Google to allow that innovation to be surfaced to other applications via the appropriate API. That can take YEARS.

Also the greatest innovation isn't even happening at the hardware level - it's happening at the computational photography level. (Google was crushing this 5 years ago - they had had "auto awesome" that used AI techniques to automatically remove wrinkles, whiten teeth, add vignetting, etc... but recently Google has fallen back).

Apple doesn't have all these constraints. They innovate in the underlying hardware, and just simply update the software with their latest innovations (like portrait mode) and ship it.

Bottom line: If you truly care about great photography, you own an iPhone. If you don't mind being a few years behind, buy an Android.

Opponents of the post are noting the DxOMark ratings of Android phones — but appear to be missing the point. Gundotra is talking about the entire experience, from the lenses to the Phone's hardware, to the software, rather than just lens quality.

Gundotra served as the Senior Vice President of Social Networking Services at Google — but not before he was the Vice President of Engineering for the company. He was responsible for developer evangelism, overseas applications development, and open source programs — specifically Android.