Essential took to its official Twitter feed this morning to announce a new camera update that’s rolling out now to the Google Play store, bringing back one popular feature and marked general improvements. For clarity, this is the camera application for its Essential Phone PH-1, which released in early 2017. There are a total of four named changes in the app’s update log but the biggest change is probably the return of the device’s Tiny Planets for video. For those who may not be aware, the mode is a special feature for users to shoot, save, and share 360-degree video and photos. It saves the content in a format that shows the footage or imagery from the front-facing camera stitched together so that the sky or surroundings encompasses the rest of the shot. The effect creates a spherical object – or “planet” – at the center, which contains the user themselves and anything else in their immediate vicinity. The update brings that functionality back to videos, although it has still been usable in photos.
Meanwhile, shots taken in the smartphone’s Burst mode will now be saved as a single image group file. That means that users will be able to take a burst of photos and not need to worry about sorting through them or accidentally deleting one of the series. It also frees up space in the newly improved camera roll. That’s been updated with new icons for Slow-Mo, 360, regular videos, and Burst mode shots so that it’s easier for a user to find any of those types of content without as much digging. Lastly, and perhaps less excitingly, the camera app has undergone some internal tweaks associated with bug-fixes and stability improvements. Users won’t necessarily notice the change at first glance but those should make the whole camera experience on Essential’s smartphone just a bit smoother.
Although the PH-1 was effectively a pariah among other Android handsets following its initial release, this update is really just the latest in a long series of software improvements to land on the device. Not all of those have been intended to make the device more stable. For example, among the most recent of those brought an update to the Android P Beta firmware. But each has made the device a much better smartphone for those who bought one and stuck with the company through it all.