iPhones take better pictures, says former Google exec

Commentary: Vic Gundotra, the man behind Google+, criticizes his old employers and says Android's camera tech is "a few years behind."

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

 Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Elvis Duran's 2017 Summer Bash

Does she know great photography? Is that why she bought an iPhone?

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What makes a photograph better? 

Not an Android phone, apparently.

This, at least, seems to be the view of former Google executive Vic Gundotra. In a spirited chat on Facebook on with the social network's strategic accounts manager Ravi Belwal and others, Gundotra uttered these powerful words: "I would never use an Android phone for photos!"

This might seem odd coming from the man who powered Google+ to notoriety before becoming CEO of health care company AliveCor. Gundotra, though, laid out his thesis in detail. 

The problem, he said, was Android. The minute Samsung tries to create innovative photographic capabilities, it has to deal with Google's operating system.

"When Samsung innovates with the underlying hardware (like a better camera) they have to convince Google to allow that innovation to be surfaced to other applications via the appropriate API. That can take YEARS," said Gundotra. 

There are those who feel many things with Android take years -- such as even getting the most updated version of the operating system on your phone.

Still, Gundotra explained that the biggest innovations in phone photography are coming at the computational level.

"Google was crushing this 5 years ago," he said. "They had had 'auto awesome' that used AI techniques to automatically remove wrinkles, whiten teeth, add vignetting, etc ... but recently Google has fallen back."

It's hard to keep up, of course, But, Gundotra believes that Apple has a built-in advantage.

"They innovate in the underlying hardware, and just simply update the software with their latest innovations (like portrait mode) and ship it," he said. 

Apple has indeed pushed portrait mode on iPhone 7 Plus in its ads, seeming to believe that it is one of the phone's big advantages.

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. It can't be easy, though, to hear such criticism from one of your former senior staffers. 

Especially when Gundotra concluded with: "If you truly care about great photography, you own an iPhone . If you don't mind being a few years behind, buy an Android."

Of course, one person's great photograph is another person's mundanity. It's not as if there's universal agreement on perfection. I'm perfectly happy with my wrinkles and yellow teeth. I don't believe vignetting will help my image either. If your phone takes photographs with which you're happy, why worry? 

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