It’s no secret that Chromebooks haven’t had the best cameras over the years. Not only has the hardware been mediocre at best, the software experience powering those lenses has always been a bit barren of features. As most Chromebooks tend to simply come with a standard 720p webcam as their main shooter, it makes sense that the Chrome OS team hasn’t spent a ton of resources on making the camera app a top-notch piece of software.
With more business-focused devices in the market and on the way, however, cameras are getting better on Chrome OS devices and it seems that a more powerful software experience is on the way as well. Internally being dubbed as ‘expert mode’ in the Chromium Gerrit, it appears that a few upgraded features are on the way for users that want a bit more manual control over their shot selections. We’re hopeful that these features come into line with the Compass Camera efforts we uncovered in January to help make Chromebook cameras a lot better than they currently are.
As you can tell from the collection of expert mode settings, the camera app on Chrome OS is prepping for quite a few new features. First up, we’ll be getting some general face tracking which will help cameras that posess auto focus features to hone in on the users faces in the shot. As a part of that, the camera app will also get the ability to detect the number of faces in a shot.
Those multi-face shots will likely happen in meeting rooms, and the added PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) options will be very helpful for external cameras that can handle those types of movements. Imagine a mounted web cam in a meeting room that can easily be adjusted to center up all the users in the room right from the standard Chrome OS camera interface. That would be quite helpful.
Finally, it seems users will also be able to set video profile and bitrate options as well, choosing different encoding options like h264 when recording. Again, without the necessary hardware in place, this doesn’t amount to much, but with better cameras already here and on the way for Chrome OS devices, these expert mode options could really help the camera experience on Chromebooks and Chromeboxes get quite a bit better in a hurry. Most of this work has been merged as of the end of January or begining of February, so we’ll be on the lookout for new features to actually begin arriving in the Chrome OS camera app in the coming weeks.