Mobile photography is improving more than you can imagine. We have already come a long way from no cameras on phones to VGA shooters and now even a 108MP quad-camera setup is available in the market. But there’s a consistent theme that users might have noticed, it is not just about the cameras but software too. Yes, too many cameras on a smartphone don’t mean it will click an excellent photo unless the underlying software isn’t that capable. Every smartphone manufacturer has its stock camera app and then, Google has Google Camera or Gcam.
Released in 2014, Google Camera or Gcam has changed the way people capture photos and videos on their smartphones. It is like a software overlord that offers exceptional software capabilities that work with cameras mounted on your phone to get the best shot possible. Google has been improving it much and now, it is already v8.1 and above and trust us, it is better than any stock camera UI on any smartphone you might have seen.
However, the catch is, it is not available on all smartphones. On the contrary, it was available on all Android phones initially when it was launched, however, Google decided to keep it as a Pixel-only app. But hey, thanks to the Android modding community, Google Camera mods have arrived for a wholesome amount of non-Google phones. This is a guide on how to download and install Gcam with astrophotography on an Android smartphone.
What is Google Camera (GCam)
As aforementioned, Google Camera is not available on any smartphones other than Pixels. Thus, Gcam is a modded version of the app that allows non-Google phones to install it and take the advantage of its higher computational prowess. Launched in 2014, Google Camera has advanced much late and harnesses every aspect of a phone’s camera to capture truly perfect shots. A 360-degrees shot on Google Camera looks exactly like it sounds and not just a bunch of images stitched together.
It is bizarre how Google Camera overtakes any smartphone irrespective of its make mode, the camera UI, and the cameras being used. Thanks to advanced artificial intelligence, Google Camera is unbeatable. Want Google Camera on your device? Read along with this page to know how to install Gcam and everything else that you should be aware of.
What are the prerequisites for installing the Google Camera mod
The Google Camera app doesn’t run on non-Pixel devices. On the contrary, a modded version aka Gcam would work on many non-Pixels but doesn’t work on all the devices. To check if your phone is compatible or not, you have to check Camera 2 API compatibility.
You’ll need this Camera2 API Probe app(free) from the Google Play Store that would let you know if your phone is capable or not. Just under “Hardware Support Level”, check if it is showing “Level3”, “Full”, “Limited”, “Legacy”. In case it is Legacy, you won’t be able to configure Gcam on your phone. You’ll need to root your phone, enable the Camera 2 API, and then, install Gcam.
On the contrary, if it says anything else from Legacy, you can install the app and there you have it.
As said, in case it is Legacy you would need to root your phone to enable Camera 2 API. Also, you would need to install additional files to run the Gcam mod app as the app doesn’t support all Android smartphones.
Statuses of Camera 2 API Compatibility
LEVEL_3: This status of devices supports RAW image capture, YUV reprocessing, additional output stream configurations and among others and it is the highest of the levels from the four.
FULL: This level of devices support all major capabilities of the Camera 2 API that it should but less than that of LEVEL_3.
LIMITED: This level of devices support some but not all the capabilities of Camera 2 API.
LEGACY: Finally, this particular level of Android devices doesn’t support Camera 2 API but only Camera 1 API and thus, not compatible to install Google Camera.
How To Enable Camera 2 API
If your smartphone supports Camera 2 API, it’s well and good because you can simply use the Google Camera app right away. If not, you would need to enable the Camera 2 API simply by rooting the phone. But hey, rooting isn’t recommended as it may be easy but there’s a lot of moving parts that you need to take care of. You can edit the “build.prop” file which is available in two of the many ways.
Method #1: Using the BuildProp Editor app
You still need a rooted smartphone to use this app for sure. Here’s how you can edit the Build.Prop file on your device.
- First up, download the app from here.
- When a prompt appears on the screen, “Grant” access to the same.
- Tap on the “Edit” icon on the top-right corner.
- At the end of the build.prop file, you need to enter the given command (without the quotation mark).
Step #5: Tap on save and restart the phone and check as the Camera 2 API will be enabled.
Method #2: Using the Magisk Module
How To Download Google Camera (GCam) APK
As said, you can simply download the Google Camera from Google Play Store for your Pixel devices. But if it’s not Pixel, you would need a modded version. Currently, at v8.1, the modded version on your device may not have the same version. Here’s where you would find the links to download the modded app on your smartphone or follow the links below.
- Asus ROG Phone II (I001D) – Download
- ROG Phone 3 (I003) – Download
- Asus ZenFone 6/6Z (I01WD) – Download
- ZenFone 7/7 Pro (I002D) – Download
- ZenFone Max Pro M1 – Download
- ZenFone 5Z – Download
- Oppo Reno 10X Zoom – Download
- LeEco LE 2 (s2) – Download
- LG G5 – Download
- LG G6 – Download
- LG V20 – Download
- LG V30 – Download
- Nokia 7 Plus – Download
- Nokia 7.2, 7.1 – Download
- Nokia 8.1 – Download
- Other Nokia phones – Download
- OnePlus 3/ OnePlus 3T – Download
- OnePlus 5/ OnePlus 5T – Download [XML config]
- OnePlus 6/ OnePlus 6T – Download
- OnePlus 7/ 7 Pro/ 7T/ 7T Pro/7T Pro McLaren Edition [XML Config, Enable Aux Camera] – Download
- OnePlus 8/ 8 Pro – Download
- OnePlus Nord – Download
- Samsung Galaxy S10e – Download
- Samsung Galaxy A71 – Download
- Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite – Download
- Xiaomi Mi A3 – Download
- Mi A2 – Download
- Mi A1 – Download
- Mi A2 Lite – Download
- Redmi K20/ K20 Pro – Download
- Redmi Note 5 Pro / 6 Pro – Download
- Redmi Note 8 – Download
- Poco F1 – Download
- Poco X2/Redmi K30 – Download
- Redmi Note 7, 7S, 7 Pro – Download
- Note 8 Pro – Download
- Note 9S/ 9 Pro India – Download
- Realme XT – Download
- Realme X – Download
- Realme X2 – Download
- Realme X2 Pro – Download
- Realme 6 – Download
- Realme 6 Pro – Download
- Realme 5 – Download
- Realme 5 Pro – Download
- Realme 3 – Download
- Realme 3 Pro – Download
- Realme 2 Pro – Download
- Realme 1 – Download
How To Install GCam on any Android Smartphone
Now that you have downloaded and install Gcam modded app APK file and want to install it, here’s how you can do it about.
Step #1: First up, locate the APK file on your phone that usually goes through the “Downloads” section on your smartphone.
Step #2: Now, go to the Settings >> Security and allow “Installation from unknown sources”.
Step #3: Go to the APK file again and tap on it to “Install”.
Step #4: Once the installation is done, tap on “Launch” and bingo, a modded version of Gcam is now available on your device. That’s how you can install Gcam on any Android smartphone.
How To Configure Gcam for Your Device
You need to configure the recently installed Gcam app on your device to run it properly. Some of the benefits of installing a proper XML file are efficiently switching between daylight and low light settings for better shots, upgrading or downgrading versions without losing the settings, and more. Here’s how you can do it.
1. First up, you need to configure the Gcam app by tweaking its XML file. It is likely to be available with the APK file you just downloaded. If not, you will have to search for it.
2. Next up, move the file from “Downloads” to “Gcam >> configs7”. If the folder is not available, create one under Gcam and paste the XML file there.
3. Next up, you need to double-tap on the dark area of the camera app that is present in the bottom where you’ll find the shutter button, modes, etc.
4. You will get a prompt asking you to select the config file, select the same, and tap on “Restore”.
5. The Gcam app will restart and if it does, you have successfully loaded the new XML file on the app.
What are the Features of Gcam mod APK v7.3
Talking about Gcam v7.3, it does bring a lot to the table apart from the usual features that Gcam offers. This includes but is not limited to automatic DND mode during video recording, recording at 24fps among others. There’s astrophotography to the Night Side mode that allows users to take exceptional shots in a jiffy.
The list of features includes exposure controls to adjust HDR and brightness of the photos. There’s a rearranged Settings UI on-board along with added ‘Received Frequent Faces” to capture “Top Shot” photos. These are some of the changes and features that v7.3 brings on-board but Google keeps on adding features with the latest updates.
What Makes Gcam So Good
Google Camera (or modded Gcam) has a prowess over other stock camera applications. It can capture detailed, sharp, and otherwise perfect shots using its top-notched software and computational power, unlike others. But what exactly makes it so good? Here’s a summary of what you can expect and do with Gcam.
Portrait shots are something new on a smartphone but Gcam takes it a step forward. It enhances the object/subject in front and blurs the background with proper edge detection. The shots are more captured with a DSLR-like camera rather than a smartphone in most cases.
Gcam uses the camera’s hardware such as optical image stabilization and gyroscope to produce a 3-seconds long video and the output is a blur-free snapshot.
Your phone can already take slow-motion shots with some extending it to 960fps and beyond. However, it depends on your phone’s ability to process it as well. Gcam has excellent post-processing algorithms in place that can convert your 120 or 240 fps videos into a masterpiece.
With Gcam, you can capture 10 photos in one second simply by holding the shutter button. This may seem like a lot of work to do post capturing the shot but Smart Burst is truly amazing in some use cases. You can also use the best image captured from the lot. This means more sense when there are too many variables involved such as a group photo where people could potentially have a closed eye.
There’s a lot of work going on when you are capturing an HDR+ shot. To simplify, the camera takes burst shots with varying dynamic range and other variables. Now, the software will take the best shot processing it pixel-by-pixel to render the best image as an average of the photo set. This helps take images with less noise, blurriness, and great for low-light photos.
This is one of the biggest benefit of using Google Camera. Available in Pixel devices by default, this features lets you capture the celestial bodies, planets, the Milky Way band and more about it in the next section.
What is Astrophotography
Now, we have come to the section where we’ll discuss Google Camera’s best picture i.e. Astrophotography. By definition, astrophotography is the term used for capturing photos of astronomical and celestial objects like the sun, moon, stars, planets, the Milky Way band, and so on. Although smartphones can capture photos both at low light and daylight, capturing an astronomical object isn’t a piece of cake and requires a lot of effort, experience, and the perfect spot.
Google has improved upon the Google Camera app so much so that it has actually allowed smartphones to capture those celestial objects unmatched by any other camera app. Set the phone on a tripod, set perfect settings with exposure, contrast, timer, etc, and you will see the best photos as a result.
Note that it isn’t that easy as it sounds and you would still end up taking blurry photos if you haven’t calibrated the app perfectly. Also, it’s mobile photography that we are talking about and thus, it would be still limited by many variables so don’t expect photos of Saturn to come out as detailed as the one you would see on a high-grade telescope.
How To Enable Astrophotography Mode in Gcam
Apparently, the Google Camera app you just installed will trigger and enable Astrophotography mode without manually doing it. For this, you need a super steady and stable position for your phone i.e. on a tripod, low light for photography and once these conditions are met, the phone will automatically go into astrophotography mode.
Clearly you cannot trigger it if you don’t meet the said conditions but there’s a way to use astrophotography even in daylight. To do it, you need a tripod to keep the phone steady in a stable position. Now, cover the lens with your finger and let the camera app detect nighttime scenes where it should trigger astrophotography mode. Now, press the shutter button and the timer for exposure should go out. Lift your finger and let the camera shoot the subject/object you want to capture. You can tap on the shutter button at any time you want the long exposure shot to end and the result will be an excellent image if you pass to calibrate it properly.
How To Take Excellent Shots With Gcam’s Astrophotography Feature
Assuming that you are on the rooftop of your house or building or in a plain field, here are a few tips and tricks that you can use on your phone with Google Camera to take great shots with astrophotography in Night Sight.
Also, this is subjective and may vary depending upon what type of shot you are expecting to take. Once you trigger the Astrophotography feature in Night Sight assuming that you are in a truly low-lit environment. Place it on a tripod as handheld shots will be exceptionally blurry even if you have the steadiest hands. Once you have tagged along with a tripod, place the phone and point it at an angle that where you would see the nighttime sky on the viewfinder and there you go.
Tap on the shutter button and it would take anywhere between a minute to 5 minutes that you will see on the screen. The app decides the exposure based on the scene. You can tap the shutter button whenever you want to end the shot. Once it is over, you will be blown off with the results, to be honest.
The trick is to select a place or spot with low light pollution as shooting in the hustle and bustle of the city won’t cut it. A scheduled place like a mountain or a plain field or a few kilometers away from a town or so would be an ideal choice. Death Valley in the U.S. has one of the best settings for nighttime astrophotography as it has one of the lowest amounts of light pollution but that’s just a suggestion. There are abundant places in any given state, city, country where you would find the right spots for these kinds of shots.
That’s a lot of things you got to know about installing and using a GCam and Astrophotography on your smartphone. Note that not all the devices will support Google Camera and in fact, some might support at first but with newer versions of the app released, they might not support it at all.