Even though Google is bringing updates to their Android operating system, like we’ve seen now with Android 4.3, some users still feel the need for a more custom look on their devices, that also offers some extra features. Come in CyanogenMod, a well known name for ROM flashers.

The CyanogenMod team has been working on their “Nemesis” project for some time, and a first look at things to come is their news Focal app, which tries to bring the CyanogenMod experience into the stock camera app that despite updates, has remained pretty basic.

What does Focal bring to the table?


Even though Android is an Open Source platform, the camera app, along with a few others are closed sourced, thus they were usually used in the same form on custom ROMs, but the guys over at CyanogenMod thought that keeping a stock camera app defeats the purpose of having a custom ROM. In order to solve this issue, they went and made their own app, which they now call Focal.

Focal brings Android users, an entirely new experience when it comes to taking pictures with their Android devices. The app has a unique design, where user can drag the widget-like icon and reveal a host of other options for taking pictures:

  • Photo – This feature allows the user to take a quick snapshot
  • Panorama – Although not full-featured yet, this will allow users to take panoramic pictures
  • HDR – The software algorithm for HDR has been greatly enhanced with real tone mapping
  • PicSphere – Picsphere (PhotoSphere) is a relatively new feature added to camera apps and it allows users to take 360 degree pictures. The feature still needs some work, but it will be finished soon
  • Video – Allows the users to quickly jump into video mode. Also, while taking videos, double-tapping the screen will take a snapshot
  • Secondary Camera – Quick toggle between the back and front camera

But this is not all. By dragging from the bottom (if you are using the phone in landscape mode), you will see an entire list of settings appear. This will allow the user to modify pretty much anything in their pictures. The focus mode is set to manual, and by tapping and dragging the focus point, users can focus on any element of their photos.

The bottom toggles act like widgets and they can be toggled on or off anytime. Also, when the user has opened too many, they can be slid around the screen to make the best UI possible. By sliding from the opposite side of the Shutter toggle, users will be able to see the last pictures taken. Here are some widgets that the Focal app has:

  • Color effects: negative, posterize, aqua, black and white, sepia, whiteboard, blackboard, solarize
  • Auto presets: auto, sunset, night, party
  • Burst mode: Will allow taking 5, 10, 15 or Infinite shots (Infinite Mode is not actually infinite, as it will fill up the memory of the device at some point)
  • Always on flash
  • Picture Timer up to 60 Seconds

Another cool addition is the new review drawer. You can now quickly glance at a shot you’ve just taken by simply swiping down/left (portrait/landscape) anywhere on the screen. When taking a burst shot, a small version of the review drawer appears, and shows you your shots as they are taken. Brilliant!

The Focal app works with the hardware of the device that is installed on, for example, if your Android device has a good camera that has zero shutter speed or burst photos, you will also have that option. Pretty much anything that the hardware can handle will be available in the Focal app. Also, the team in charge of maintenance will constantly update the app if new features appear for cameras.

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I often wonder, where is technology heading? What do all of these advances mean for us and for our future? I sometimes miss the days when I didn’t know how to use a floppy disk, or how a computer CPU works, but now, until I find an answer to my questions, I’ll keep tracking these advances and show everything I find to those who share my interests.