You might have noticed that Camera FV-5 has not been updated for quite some time already, and that would be an understatement, with the last update being from end of 2017. Many have asked if Camera FV-5 is dead or if the development has stopped. Ok, TL;DR a completely new Camera FV-5 is around the corner. Keep reading, this will be a mix of information, announcements and ‘frequently asked questions’ nobody has already asked but might do once reading all of this.
Camera FV-5 is almost 7. When the development of Camera FV-5 started in the summer of 2011, the situation with regard to camera apps and smartphones was completely different. Camera FV-5 was born in a time when users demanded manual controls for photography and more powerful camera options that weren’t available at the time. Android development was completely different. Smartphones had crappy cameras and multiple cameras on the back of the device was something unthinkable. A lot has changed in all this time. 8 major Android versions have been published since, cameras are more powerful than ever. Selfie cameras now have autofocus, dual cameras and often more megapixels than rear cameras. On the back of the device you find more often than not multiple cameras offering different capabilities. Different camera form factors have popped, like compact cameras running Android or motorized cameras hidden under the display. Device variability and fragmentation has never been larger: Android offers different application programming interfaces to the camera, and almost every manufacturer has proprietary camera implementations. Camera FV-5 had to grow with all this, and it was not easy to accommodate everything under an app that abstracts away all device technicalities from you. Programming standards and best practices have radically changed, and now Android is mostly programmed with a new programming language (Kotlin) different from Java that was originally used. It was obvious to us that it was getting increasingly more difficult to accommodate new features without breaking something else: everything in the app is completely entangled, and radical new features like support for multiple cameras and different camera modes were really difficult to implement. The current version of Camera FV-5 has basic support for multiple cameras, but this support is really basic and is more like an amendment than a well thought-out implementation. And with the increasing number of proprietary manufacturer implementations, this was getting out of control. We had two options:
- We could rework the app to better accommodate features. This is what we did in the beginning, but given the size of the app and the number of features and devices supported, it took us a long time to even get started. There were things we would never be able to properly address with this, so we scrapped this idea after some months of development.
- Start a new version of the app, from scratch. Forget everything we had done until now, and start fresh. This was brave but in the end this is what we did.
We started in January 2018 with the development, and this year the app was starting to look in a finished state. It took us definitely longer than expected, but we wanted to build a solid foundation upon we could build all the features we always wanted to build, and then some.
By the way, how is the new version going to be called? 4.0?
We haven’t decided this yet. Let’s call it new Camera FV-5 for now!
So what are the big news of the new Camera FV-5?
It starts with:
The new app has been optimized from the very beginning to be fast. It starts faster, and delays the loading of unneeded components to a later point. It snaps pictures ultra fast, the optional picture review shows with zero delay, and background photo processing is much faster. There’s no add-on or option that slows the app down. In modern hardware, the new Camera FV-5 performs like a Ferrari, and in modest hardware still performs like a champ.
A new user interface
The old Camera FV-5 was meant to be used in landscape mode, and portrait orientation was never fully supported. The new user interface has been designed with those goals in mind:
- You can use it in portrait or landscape, and the interface fully supports both orientations, no second-class portrait orientation support anymore.
- Usability with one hand. The current interface is a two hand operation game. The new Camera FV-5 lets you use the main controls with a single hand. Main photographic parameters like white balance, focus, metering, ISO or exposure; picture taking, exposure compensation, and even zooming, are all reachable with just one hand.
- Speed: changing parameters like focus modes, white balance presets, etc. is a breeze. You can switch from one parameter to the other without having to close the former.
- Customization: although not everything is user-customizable, you can still choose some of the tools that are shown on the main interface. This makes it possible for us to add more tools and options in the interface for niche use cases without having everyone to see them.
- Accessibility: the app is now accessible to users with motion and sight impairment. It integrates with Android’s accessibility services and screen readers and generates accessibility events when appropriate.
- Modern: the app follows modern a modern UI design, and is ready for what’s to come in design.
Many camera apps from phone manufacturers implement camera modes, which offer you the tools you need for a specific task. The new Camera FV-5 also implements this concept, and it allows you to quickly switch from one to another. This now feels natural if you have used camera apps from manufacturers recently. Moreover, camera modes can display specific visualizations on the viewfinder, and show buttons and controls that are only specific to that camera mode, saving a lot of space when not needed. We have plans to build many specialized camera modes in the future to accomplish tasks that were never possible before without this, so we are quite excited.
Support for multiple cameras from the start
Support for quickly switching between different cameras is now a first-class citizen. Also support for more proprietary cameras has been built. Switching between cameras is fast and easy, and you can have different settings for each one. You will love this.
This new version of the app is a complete new development. We have reused some small portions of the old app (around 10%), but otherwise it is a new development written from scratch.
This is all cool, but when do you plan to release all of this?
We’ll first release some updates to the current version fixing some critical bugs. This will happen during the summer. We plan to start with the testing process in September this year. At that time, you will be able to opt-in for the new version in Google Play. We only recommend you to do this if you can live with a non-working app. We have waited for so long to be sure the app does not have any bug we are aware of, but given the amount of devices out there, we do expect a lot of problems to arise. Although we will be happy to receive as much feedback as possible, if you depend on a (working) app, do not opt-in to the test version when it becomes available. You will be able to opt-out at any time, and you will be able to downgrade.
All this work surely would require me to pay for this new version, right? How uncool.
Nope. The new app will be released as a normal update, meaning that if you already bought the app, the update will be free. The Lite version will be updated as well, with the same current restrictions it has. All this work has been possible because all of you that have kept buying the app all this time. This also has been a conscious decision: although we know many of you are happy with the app as it currently is, there are also a lot of you that have been experiencing a lot of problems. We are obviously not happy about that, and we want to offer the best camera experience to you ever, so it wouldn’t make sense for you to pay for a product it should have worked from the very beginning.
I don’t care about this, I’m quite happy with the current version, I don’t want you to update the app I love and know! How can I prevent the app from turning into something I don’t want?
Actually the following will happen when you receive the update for the new Camera FV-5 for the first time: the old version will stay untouched on your list of apps, and the new Camera FV-5 will be installed along it. Whenever you need to use Camera FV-5, both versions will be available. You can still optionally decide to set any version as default. If you are happy with the new version, you will be able to hide the old app (with a setting in the new app’s preferences) and move forward. If you are (really) unhappy with the new version, please let us know what’s wrong with it, we want to make it great this time. It will be the future, and it will be an amazing Camera FV-5, much, much better. Give it a chance! If you really insist on keeping the old app, you can still use it. However, after some time we will discontinue the old app, and you will have to stop updating the app in order to keep the old one. And of course once the new app version is released, the old app most likely won’t receive updates anymore, as we dedicate all efforts to the new one.
The current app has been translated into a total of 55 languages (of which 17 could be considered completed) by generous contributions from many of you. The platform we used until now for collective translation (GetLocalization) closed doors at the end of May. Therefore, we set up a new platform in-house in order to continue that effort, and be independent of external companies. The new platform can be found at https://localization.fgae.de/.
We have imported previously existing translations into the platform (Camera FV-5 / App (legacy)), and autopopulated matching sentences into the new app’s translations (Camera FV-5 / App). We need your help localizing the app into all the languages that were available before!
We are so excited about this new chapter in the app’s history. We have poured one year and a half of development time into this and can’t wait for you to get to try it. We have a crazy long list of ideas that now can be implemented with the new app, and can’t wait to start implementing these once we have the app rolled out and stable. Stay tuned for more news on this!