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Get the Ice Cream Sandwich camera app for your Android

Learn how to get most of the Ice Cream Sandwich camera features without buying a new device.

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Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

The camera app on ICS devices offers more tools to the point-and-shoot user than the camera apps from previous versions of Android. However, the choices for ICS devices is very limited right now, so most users on this version will be rocking a Galaxy Nexus.

If this device isn't for you or you're just feeling a little envious of the awesome ICS camera app, chances are that you can snag those most of those same features for yourself. This is done by using a port of the new camera app, and will work with most Android devices. While you can't get every feature of the ICS camera, you will be adding some that are likely worth your time.

Now the best way to appreciate the upgrades this app brings is to first take a look at the stock camera.

Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

The older stock camera on Android is fairly intuitive with the options it has available. A small slider on the right side will let you toggle between picture and video, the large button in the lower-right corner is the shutter button, and additional camera options (focus, location storing, white balance, flash, and zoom) are hidden in small menus accessed with the five icons to the right of the viewing area. Simple and functional, but let's check out Camera ICS.

You can grab your copy of Camera ICS on the Download blog. There's also an ad-free version available for 99 cents.

Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

First on the list of new features is the camera layout. You'll notice the shutter button has moved up slightly, and the menus are organized in a different manner from the stock app.

Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Next up is panoramic mode, which can be accessed by clicking on the options button in the lower-right corner and selecting the icon that looks like a warped picture. Controlling the panoramic camera is simple: start with the camera on the one side of what you want to capture, press the shutter button, and slowly pan the camera to the other side. A gauge at the bottom will show you how "full" your panoramic shot is. Normally the shot will end once the gauge is full, but you can also finalize the picture by clicking the shutter button again.

Back in normal camera mode you'll probably notice that the option buttons have vanished and were replaced by a new slider that controls zoom. The other camera options can be changed by pressing the button below this slider.

Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Still availale is a menu for the flash, white balance, and exposure options. Another button, represented by three dots (the new style for menu buttons on Ice Cream Sandwich devices), will open a final Camera settings menu.

Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

This menu contains the options that really set the Camera ICS app apart from the stock camera. Color effects are now available (instead of needing another app to apply them) and can be seen live in the viewing area when taking a picture. You'll also find the ability to set functions for the volume keys on your device. By default they are not set to do anything, but you can make them zoom+/-, shot/auto focus, or to simply act as the shutter button.

One major complaint is that phones with Android versions older than ICS do not have an instant shutter. This app will probably speed things up, but still can't guarantee the instant focus and shutter found on the Galaxy Nexus. Give it a try and leave a comment with your thoughts.