Samsung, Panasonic Are Considering Android Cameras

Android RobotSamsung and Panasonic said separately that they are considering building cameras based on Android.

At CES 2012, Polaroid demonstrated an Android-based camera, and if two big manufacturers followed suit the digital photography space could get very interesting indeed.

Engadget says Samsung is thinking about an “open” camera OS that would almost certainly be Android-based:

It’s still early days and nothing is confirmed but, given the company’s support for Android on other platforms, that OS would be a logical choice. What we know is that Samsung R&D has been researching bringing Android to its digital cameras — a move that would be far from shocking, considering that development teams do tend to collaborate, and the company clearly has experience with the Google OS.

A common OS would offer a number of benefits. Software-based filters and editing would allow photographers to tweak their images on the fly. Wi-Fi enabled cameras would be easier to integrate into networks, where images could be shared, printed and/or archived. Peripheral devices would no longer need to be manufacturer specific. Remote triggers, microphones and the like could be one-size-fits-all – which is the direction some companies are already pursuing with micro four thirds technology.

Panasonic’s Barney Sykes told TechRadar that Android path isn’t without its difficulties:

It’s one option for the future, but we have to be mindful of the consumer and the warranty that we offer. If we open up the platform to third parties, then we lose control of the warranty that we could offer the customer, because you never know what you’re downloading.

He also noted that getting a camera’s optical components to play nicely with the OS would be a challenge:

One of the issues is that we have so much optical technology in the cameras, even in compacts, we have Leica lenses. When you download something, it’s got to be able to work with the optics of the camera.

Despite the drawbacks, the interest in Android-based cameras is real. Point and shoot devices are an endangered species, since phone cameras are getting more capable with every generation. As far as picture quality goes, a standalone camera will always take a better shot – but they’re way behind when it comes to convenience. I can snap a picture on my smartphone and instantly upload it to the cloud, Facebook, or wherever else I want it — all without plugging into my computer.

A point-and-shoot that could provide smartphone-like image management through a graphical user interface would have a lot going for it. And an Android-based DSLR wouldn’t be too shabby either.