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KitKat update brings enhanced camera to Google's Nexus 5

Christmas is coming early for Nexus 5 smartphone owners, who should receive Google's Android 4.4.1 update within the next couple of days.

The rollout starts today, with a few fixes to the sometimes unstable camera application.

This update focuses on speed, with a boost to the time it takes to focus (especially in low light) and achieve white balance, as well as less shutter lag and the new ability to pinch-zoom the viewfinder in HDR+ mode.

"Picture this: your whole family, reunited for the holidays, in front of a crackling fire. A great image...except if you're a photographer (in which case, you'd be saying 'challenging low light, high contrast...argh!!'), the Nexus team wrote in a blog entry.

The added HDR+ function puts an end to those sorts of frustrating scenarios, offering sharper contrasts between bright and dark scenes, and better performance in low light situations, Google said. Just press the shutter button, and instead of snapping just one photo, the Nexus 5 will take a burst of shots in about one-third of a second, then apply magical technology to fuse the images together.

The end result: a more balanced image. (See before and after photos above.)

"So don't let a dim room or a warm fire be the Grinch that stole your holiday reunion masterpiece," the Nexus team said.

Google unveiled its next-gen smartphone and an updated version of Android on Halloween. Running 4.4 KitKat, the handset sports a 4.95in, 1,920 x 1,080 full HD display, with 445 pixels-per-inch.

Powered by a 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip and 450MHz Adreno 330 GPU, the LG-manufactured device also comes with a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and an 8-megapixel rear shooter with optical image stabilization.

The advanced lens was developed to capture more light for brighter night and sharper action shots, according to Google.