Lens

Yesterday, Foursquare released a much needed update for Windows Phone users. Besides fixing a notification bug, Foursquare added Lens support. Lenses are a Windows Phone unique feature that puts camera apps within the camera for relatively quick access. While the Foursquare one seems a bit odd (it just launches the app), others can be quite useful.

First introduced in Windows Phone 8.0, Lenses seemed like they could be a ‘big thing’ on the OS. However, we’ve found ourselves using them less and less, instead relying on post-editing or using Nokia’s apps directly. But that’s us, so we’re curious if you still use them, or have they become a kind of novelty?

Take our poll below and kick off in comments a discussion about Lenses, including how they can be approved or if Microsoft should just abandon the model.

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Say what you will about Samsung, but it looks like they’re finally sinking some money and resources into delivering quality apps for their users. Today, the Korean company has pushed out three new camera apps, which are all variations on a theme, but are still fun to use.

The three apps, Artistic Effect, Fun Shot and Color Effect, are all Lenses that can be launched to give live filters for your camera. The apps themselves are all designed around the same UI, though each comes with a dozen or so uniquely themed filters. While that may seem redundant, it’s actually a smart move as it means you have less scrolling to do when selecting your filter. Not to mention, not everyone needs Fun Shot, which makes your images distorted for goofy results.

Here is the breakdown of the three new camera apps...

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BLINK is a fun little camera app that came out of a summer project at Microsoft Research. It was demonstrated during the lead up to the release of Windows Phone 8 and was eventually released to the Store, receiving numerous updates over the past few months to improve things.

Today, version 2.0 has landed bringing with it a bunch of new features and new functionality. In short, it has basically become a ‘cinemagraph’ app now in addition to being able to grab the “perfect shot” as before.

Head past the break for the full change log and our quick video hands on for a tour of the new features!

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If there’s one thing you can say about Windows Phone developers—they know the community and what they want. After our post last night, Rudy Huyn, the man behind the upcoming 6Sec app for Vine on Windows Phone, seems to have set him into full gear. A big update was posted today for his private beta users and it should set Windows Phone apart from the competition.

First up, we have the big one: full Lens integration. That’s right, when this app goes live in the Store (expected in a few weeks), the app will come with direct Windows Phone 8 camera support, meaning users can quickly launch their camera and hop into 6Sec to directly record their Vine.

As you can see in our video below, it works flawlessly...

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The official Twitter app for Windows Phone, which received a hearty update a few months ago, has just been bumped to version 2.1 and it’s quite significant too.

The big new feature is integrated Lens support with filters. That means you can snap a photo and quickly post it to your Twitter account (or accounts, as multiple ones are supported) and add some nifty filters like Vignette, Warm, Cool, 1963, 1972, Golden Hour, Antique, and the classic Black and White.

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Ciel is a Windows Phone 8 photography app that lets you place a template over your pictures that details your location and current weather. It's a nifty way to show off how nice (or miserable) the weather is where ever you may be.  Additionally, Ciel has direct sharing support for Facebook, Foursquare and Tumblr to let you share the good (or bad) weather with your friends without having to leave the app.

An update was pushed out this morning for Ciel, lifting it to version 2.7. The most notable change with the update is the addition of Lens integration.

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If there is one thing Lumia 920 owners are happy about, it’s their camera. So it’s finally nice to see some aftermarket-accessories build off of what Nokia has started (though personally, we’d like to see Nokia get involved in this area too).

We’ve covered some magnetic lens adapters in the past, and while “cheap” they did offer users a new creative ability with their phones. After all, if you’re a good photographer, you can make “art” out of anything and those lenses enabled some neat options.

Now we have a 12x telephoto lens that comes out of Guangdong, China and it goes for just slightly less than $20 (plus shipping). We ordered ours through Amazon.com and it took about 10 days or so for the product to arrive.

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As some of you know, I’ve had the preview release of Photosynth for Windows Phone 8 since late October. The app felt and indeed looked no different than the Windows Phone 7 version although it did have Lens integration. That integration though was little more than treating the Lens as an app launcher and not really unique to the user experience.

Now in a tweet, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore explains why the delay occurred between the version I have and the one that just came out today. The main difference is now the Lens app is a different and indeed much better experience than before. Photosynth in Lens mode is full screen whereas before it was only partial.

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Bringing our coverage of Nokia's partner apps that were demoed today towards a close, we have a somewhat intriguing use of the Windows Phone lens feature: JobLens.

Positioned as a service to help those looking for work, JobLens provides a friends list to help you network and look for opportunities through your contacts, but that’s not the clever feature. As suggested by the title, this app uses augmented reality to show you jobs that are being advertised near your location.

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Nokia seems to be fostering quite the partnership with Snowboard manufacturer Burton. We’ve seen Nokia sponsoring Burton riders, both partnering to create sleeping bags for your phone, and now there’s the Burton app for Windows Phone.

Released to the Windows Phone marketplace last week, many will have skipped over this app but we think it is worth your time, and here’s why.

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Way back in September, Microsoft in conjunction with Nokia showed off a new Lens app called ‘Blink’. The app, a summer project by Microsoft Research, is a rapid fire camera program that will take numerous photos and then let you select which is best.

The app is kind of ingenious though because it won’t flood your Camera Roll with 20 shots of the same kid running in the backyard. Instead, you save the shot (or shots) you want to your Camera Roll and then later, you can re-open that “project” in Blink to grab a different pic, if you so choose.

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We've followed the development of Pictures Lab, by René Schulte fairly closely since it was unveiled to be updated for Windows Phone 8. The latest release adds more functionality, applies performance improvements and more for users to take full advantage of. While the app itself sports Lens support in Windows Phone 8, Schulte has released Face Lens on the Windows Phone Store.

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Every once in awhile we come across a really innovative app that isn’t just gimmicky but extremely useful. Today, that app is ReadyClick!

Built for Windows Phone 8, it allows you take a photo just by using your voice—perfect for getting those group shots and not having to worry about a timer. The app is both a Tile and Lens for the camera, making it quickly available for regular usage. Once launched you have a few options including snapping a photo instantly, using a standard (but configurable) timer or the voice activation.

It’s of course the latter function that really makes this app.

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Introducing the Nokia Lumia 920 with PureView Technology

It was a sizeable day for Nokia, Microsoft, ourselves and consumers yesterday as we saw Nokia take to the stage and unveil the Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 Windows Phones. Windows Phone Central was there at the front of the event, and as Bill O'Reilly likes to scream - "We're doing it live!" (NSFW), so we blogged it live.

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Nokia walked us through the capabilities of the Lumia 920 camera, which lead to some impressive results. Implementing PureView technology into the Lumia Windows Phone, Nokia has been able to create something special for when moments occur that require a quick shot of a camera.

The f2.0 aperture lens ensures enough light passes through to the sensor and floating lens technology provides image stabilisation with the shutter being open for longer. We're eagerly awaiting the release of the Lumia 920 to finally venture outside and snap some shots.

Source: YouTube

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Critics of both Nokia's PureView technology and the Lumia 920 camera have been attacked by the company's chief of photography, Damian Dinning. Publishing a series of tweets, Dinning chose to reach out and explain how the PureView technology Nokia is developing is not limited to a single feature on the specification sheet.

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Nokia City Lens - from beta to official

It was just over two weeks ago that Nokia’s City Lens app, which allows users to find “things to do” using their compass, camera phone and accelerometer, received an update and now the official release is out. The augmented reality app has proven to be quite popular with users, so it's nice to see it finally go official.

Billed as version 1.1, the app is neither listed in the Nokia Collection nor available by search—but we managed to get the link for you folks to use now (as soon as the app propagates to your Marketplace servers).

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Nokia has announced an extension to their exclusive partnership with Carl Zeiss, which will lead to more collaboration with future smartphones. The two companies have been working together closely and their efforts have seen the N8 and Nokia 808 PureView (set to launch this year) come to life, blowing away the market with advanced smartphone optics.

Jo Harlow, executive vice president of Nokia Smart Devices, had the following to comment on Carl Zeiss' contribution.

"Carl Zeiss was a crucial partner in the creation of the first PureView experience. The benefits of our ongoing collaboration will be more PureView innovation and further advancements in smartphone imaging in the coming months and years."

As well as PureView, the same technology has been used in the Nokia Lumia Windows Phone family. Since the Nokia 808 runs Symbian it's certainly an exciting time for those who await for Windows Phones with better quality shooters, especially as Nokia has since confirmed that PureView technology will be coming to Windows Phone since the demonstration was presented at MWC 2012.

Michael Kaschke, CEO at Carl Zeiss AG, followed up with some praise.

"When joining forces with Nokia in 2005, we wanted to push the boundaries of mobile photography. Looking back at seven years of successful partnership, we are proud of the innovations and outstanding products created in this shared journey. Today we are celebrating the extension of our collaboration with a new technology that sets another real benchmark in this sector."

What would you like to see from the two companies in the future?

Source: Nokia

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