Android may have a long way to go in the realm of photography if former Senior Vice President (SVP) at Google, Vic Gundotra, is to be believed. Gundotra took to Facebook on July 29 with an image and a message to express his concern that the iPhone's camera is, at least with respect to the underlying software for photography, years ahead. To be sure, Gundotra is going to have his work cut out for him in trying to convince owners of this year's flagships – at least one of which having been touted by industry specialists as having the best smartphone camera ever. With that said, the former SVP did bring up several points when pressed on the matter by commenters, which Google may want to take a look at. Although Gundotra mostly stuck to using Samsung in his response, most likely because the commenter on the thread had also referenced Samsung, the concerns raised can apply to Android as a whole.
According to Gundotra, the problem is primarily down to Android's open-source software environment. As a result of that environment, Google's mobile OS has to "be neutral to all parties" and the result is, first and foremost, fragmentation between the software and the hardware. Gundotra says, pointing to Samsung in particular, that third party software for both taking and storing photos can be confusing to users. Moreover, when a company such as Samsung "innovates with the underlying hardware," they must then either make changes or get Google to change the API so that other applications can take advantage of the innovation. Gundotra also points squarely at Google as being part of the problem, saying that "Google was crushing this 5 years ago." To make that case, he then points to the A.I.-driven "auto awesome" tool that Google innovated with to "automatically remove wrinkles, whiten teeth, add vignetting," and more.
As already mentioned, Gundotra's comments on the quality of Android's photography may come as a kind of a shock to many users of modern Android flagships. Over the past several months, Android has had some of the best mobile-mounted shooters ever to hit the market and has arguably had plenty of optimizations from a software perspective – most notably with Google's own Pixel devices. It is also true that manufacturers do have a great deal of control and are able to optimize their own software because of Android's open-source nature. Beyond that, there is a lot to be said for giving people options, with regard to photo storage, taking shots, and adding various effects. So it may also be best to view Gundotra's opinion as just that. In any case, Google appears to have plenty of work left to do if it plans to convince everybody.