Technologizer

Magisto Aims to Put a Camera Crew in Your Pocket — If You’ve Got a High-End Android Phone

CamCrew pushes Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 chip to its limits.

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Do you know offhand which processor powers your smartphone? If not, there’s no reason to feel guilty. Though different chips vary in clock speed, quantity of computing cores and advanced capabilities, they’re all so darn powerful that non-geeks generally don’t need to give much thought to which one they’ve got. That’s why I usually don’t mention the processor when reviewing phones here on TIME.com. And, come to think of it, I’m not even sure which one is inside my HTC One.

But at CES this week, Magisto — which makes an iPhone and Android app for auto-editing smartphone video into shareable movies — is demoing a new feature that requires so much horsepower it’s being designed for a specific processor. That processor would be Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800, a potent quad-core model used in devices such as Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3, Sony’s Xperia Z1 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX tablet. Qualcomm says that there are dozens more Snapdragon 800 gadgets in the works.

CamCrew — which you can see demoed in the video above — is “a camera crew in your pocket,” says Magisto co-founder Oren Boiman. It’s designed to help you shoot better video, so that the movies Magisto edits together later can be better. It recognizes the protagonists of your clips (either automatically or with your help), advises you if your camerawork is too jittery or the lighting is murky, and may suggest that you move your phone to adjust the composition. It can also decide to grab some video when you’re taking still images, or to save still images when you’re capturing video. And it does everything on the fly while you’re using the camera, which is why it requires the Snapdragon 800′s computational muscle.

The feature marks a basic shift in how Magisto does what it does — it’s always done the heavy lifting of video processing in the cloud, on Magisto’s own servers, rather than try to accomplish anything all that sophisticated right on the phone. But CamCrew is meant to push the latest Android smartphones to their limits. For now, at least, the feature won’t be available at all on the iPhone 5s or 5c, which use Apple’s own A7 and A6 chips, respectively.

“People are not professional photographers,” Boiman told me. “They don’t think about the basics of photography or videography when they capture — even basics like lighting or making sure that their camera isn’t shaking.” The idea, he says, is to let you focus on the moment you’re trying to capture — such as your kid’s soccer game — and let CamCrew handle the technical stuff.

CamCrew is due to show up in a new version of Masgisto’s Android app in the second quarter of this year. Boiman says that the company also hopes to license the technology to device makers, which could make CamCrew part of their built-in camera apps. He also says that the company may be able to make the feature work with smartphones based on Qualcomm’s less cutting-edge Snapdragon 600 chip. Which would be good: I just checked, and that’s the processor in my HTC One.

MORE: Check out TIME Tech’s complete CES coverage