Snapchat debuted a major redesign of its mobile app earlier this week, yet the revamp is still not available on Android devices and isn't expected to solve one of the biggest issues the service has on smartphones running Google's open-source operating system – the fact that it still ignores the actual cameras of most handsets. Instead of using the camera found on your Android device to capture a Snap, Snapchat is programmed to just screenshot the contents of your viewfinder shown on the screen. As a result of that approach, your images taken with the Snapchat Android app are limited to the resolution of your phone's screen and generally have a much lower quality than actual photographs captured through the lens of the same device.
The Venice, Los Angeles-based company is understood to have originally opted for this corner-cutting type of app design because its resources were much more limited in 2012 than they are today. Snapchat officially launched on Android devices just over five years ago and instantly worked on the majority of smartphones running Google's OS despite not boasting highly specific optimization, largely due to the fact that it wasn't programmed with individual cameras in mind and was instead only screengrabbing viewfinders using a method that worked on virtually all Android offerings. Half a decade later, Snap has access to significantly larger resources but is still only targeting a small number of Android devices, whereas its screenshotting mechanism remains the only option on the vast majority of contemporary phones. This state of affairs means that Snaps taken on iPhones are generally much better than those on Android handsets, save for a few exceptions like newly released Google Pixel 2 XL whose camera is actually utilized by Snapchat to do what it was meant to do – photograph.
Poor optimization is also the main reason why Snapchat is widely considered to be a battery killer in the Android ecosystem, being prone to draining significant energy levels on most non-iOS devices. Snap vowed to rebuild its Android app from the ground up as part of its latest financial report but shared no news on the matter since then, with the upcoming redesign of the service being unlikely to debut alongside the reworked product promised by the company. Likewise, it's still unclear whether the revamped app will actually address its lack of optimization for specific Android cameras or if it will only be aimed at improving the energy efficiency of the social media service.