The richness of the Android ecosystem lies in its community. Most regular users won’t bother with additional tweaks and will use their devices as they are out of the box. However, as soon as your interest peaks, the chances of improving your experience rise substantially. Just like Google Camera ports and advancements in mobile photography bring Google goodies to the table in their Pixel devices. Today, we’ll teach you how to install Gcam on Android and why you should do it.
What are Gcam ports
First some background. Gcam or Google Camera is the official Google camera app developed for Google’s lineup of Pixel devices. The Play Store version usually won’t work on non-Pixel devices so some good and knowledgeable people decided to port it to a variety of other devices.
Then, they unified, in a way, and most ports are available on this one Gcam HUB website. And may blessings be upon them, as Google Camera significantly improves photography on so many devices.
Utilizing Google’s supreme photo processing and computational photography, these ports provide much better overall results than most stock Camera apps. In some instances and on certain devices, differences are not as noticeable. But, in most cases, getting a GCAM port brings an astonishing improvement.
Add interesting features like Night Sight for night shots (an absolute improvement over most stock cameras) or Astrophotography, and you got yourself quite an advancement in comparison to your stock camera.
There are basically no prerequisites for installing Gcam on most Android devices. Of course, most ports are specifically optimized for certain devices, with the main focus on more recent Snapdragon-powered devices (2018 and onwards).
Samsung and Huawei ( with Exynos and Kirin SoCs, respectively) are not really known for openness to modding. Although, there are ports for them, as well.
What is Camera2API
Another important thing is the Camera2API (introduced by Google, which allows developers more access to certain camera features on Android. This includes ISO and shutter speed, RAW capture, focus, etc.
Most devices from recent years have Camera2API at the Full or Level 3. It is said that Google is pushing OEMs to make Level 3 a norm on their devices so that third-party cameras can have more access to hardware. But what does that mean?
There are a few Camera2API categories when it comes to hardware support for Gcam ports. Legacy and Limited just won’t cut it and are not gonna allow proper functioning of the port.
Full hardware support is better, but it still doesn’t allow for maximum usage of the available lenses. And, finally, Level 3 is what gives ports access to most hardware camera features your Android has. You can check where you stand with Camera2 API Probe. Find it on the Play Store.
Have in mind that most ports won’t take the maximum advantage of all minutiae features, but Level 3 should be enough to meet the needs of most users.
How to install a Gcam port on any Android device
Now, let’s get down to the actual installation of the port. One of the common problems is locating the proper Gcam port for your device.
Luckily, the aforementioned website has more than enough information on different modders so, with some time and research (Google is your friend, and XDA is the place to check), you should find the right port for your Android phone.
Once you locate it, it’s only left to download and install the Gcam APK. We already covered the installation of APKs from Unknown Sources so check it out if you need more info.
Have in mind that you can have Gcam run with your stock camera, so no need to worry about conflicts or anything like that. You can combine both for better results (e.g. record videos on stock, take photos on Gcam).
Here’s how to download and install Gcam on Android:
- Navigate to Celso Azavedo’s Google Camera Ports HUB.
- Access works of a modder that covers your device.
- Download the APK of the version you want. We recommend sticking to stable versions.
- Run the APK and allow the installation of apps from unknown sources.
- Install the APK.
That’s it. For stability reasons, modders recommend using Google Photos as the default Gallery. Although, this isn’t always the case.
How to use XML configurations and improve GCAM
Additionally, many ports have quite detailed tweaking options which can be quite overwhelming to regular users. One couldn’t expect less considering the idea is to give the end-user maximum options. Many OEMs can learn a lot from developer/modder communities.
That’s where XML configurations can come into play. Most recent Gcam ports for Android have options to save settings configurations, export, or import them. And, people who know a thing or two about tweaking settings made sure to export and upload their configurations.
Thanks to them, all users have access to tweaked options for their respective devices. You can find configurations on modder pages.
An important thing to do is follow instructions for certain versions as XML is not the same for, say, Gcam 8 and Gcam 7 ports.
Here’s how to download and use Gcam XML configurations:
- Firstly, we need to create a couple of folders. Open File Manager and, in internal storage, create a folder. Name it Gcam.
- Now, if you are using a port based on Google Camera 6 or older, open the newly-created Gcam folder and inside create a new folder inside. Name it Configs. If you are using a port based on Google Camera 7 or newer, name the folder Configs7.
- Moving on. Download XML for your device from the page of the modder whose port you are using. It should be saved in Downloads by default.
- Open File Manager on your Android and move the XML file from the Downloads folder to the Configs (or Configs7) folder.
- Open Gcam and tap on the black section of the viewfinder. Above or under the shutter button should do it.
- Import the XML file.
You can, of course, by following this procedure, import as many XML configuration files as you like. Until you find the one that’s fitting your taste the best. You can also tweak settings and enable/disable certain things that don’t fit you. Results should not disappoint.
And, on that note, we can conclude this article. You now know how to install a Gcam port on your Android device. If you have an interest in more content like this, feel free to check our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Editor’s note: This article was initially published in December 2020. We made sure to revamp it for freshness and accuracy.