Lenses

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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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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Although Nokia was not announcing any new Lumia Windows Phones here at CES 2013 in Las Vegas, they were still present here making sure people know that they mean business.

Luckily for us their photo guru, Juha Alakarhu, was there to take our questions regarding cameras and the future of mobile camerawork. Being in charge of Nokia’s imaging for their Lumia line gives him special insight into the field and since we’re photo enthusiasts ourselves, we had a lot to discuss.

Most of our conversation concentrated on chatting about their current cream of the crop, the Nokia Lumia 920 but who could also ignore that 808 Pureview with its 41MP image sensor? Not us. So both imaging technologies were discussed in tandem as well as what Nokia is thinking about what’s coming next. Join us after the break for some interesting tidbits behind Nokia’s photographic magic.

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Straighten out your images with Horizon Level

Horizon Angle is a keep it simple stupid app for Windows Phone 8 users that helps your pictures out. For those viewers with OCD, nothing can be more painful than looking at an image with strong horizontal lines only to have them crooked in the picture. You won’t need a tripod to keep them straight, but using Horizontal Angle will help out immensely. Windows Phone photographers read on.

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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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Although nothing official has been announced yet for Windows Phone 7.8, we’re certainly hearing a lot more about that pending update these days. The latest information states that current users will get the ‘Lenses’ feature of Windows Phone 8.

The information comes via a Google Hangout that was held recently with David Akinjise, Product Manager at Nokia and picked up by the site WPArea.de. There he revealed that the Lenses feature along with Cinemagraph and Smart Shoot will be coming to current Nokia Lumia phones in the near future.

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As we parse our way through the new Windows Phone 8 SDK which was leaked this morning, we’re starting to get an idea of some of the new features.

One of those is Camera Lenses, a method by which developers can add a “mini app” of sorts to within in the camera function. This will allow devs to have much more creative control over the Windows Phone camera app, allowing the creation of unique augmented reality apps and filters to really add a customized experience.

Head past the break to read the excerpts from the SDK…

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Is this Windows Phone 8? We think so...

With less than week before Microsoft is expected to show off Windows Phone 8 in San Francisco, some leaked (and terrible looking) screenshots have appeared on the site Nokia Innovation.

The shots supposedly show off integrated Skype, including an incoming video call as well as a data usage app. You may also note the mention of "RCSe" near the bottom which stands for "Rich communication suite", an important feature coming to WP8. The next screen shot shows the camera app with a new button. Nokia Innovation does not know what that lower button is but we can tell you that it's for the "Lenses" function, which will most likely be revealed next week.

In fact, the only reason we're giving these sceenshots some credibility is the fact that Lenses button is 100% accurate. The rest we cannot vouch for but it does jive with what we've learned and seen ourselves.

The data usage app (called "Data Smart" officially) was also confirmed by Joe Belfiore back in February in the leaked video for OEMs which detailed Apollo (yes, we've seen the video and can vouch for everything said in it). According to Nokia Innovation "the first bar shows how much data you have left, the second shows how many days remaining on your data plan, and it seems you can even adjust your data plan based  on the data report ". Such integration is part of the customization that carriers and OEMs/Microsoft will bring to Windows Phone 8 this fall.

This "data control" is a big focus in Windows Phone 8 which when combined with the data compression for web browsing will allow users to better monitor their data usage. In fact, data compression in IE10 should reduced data usage by up to 30% on top of speeding up browsing in general.

Finally, what is supposedly Nokia Drive 3.0 is also shown with updated traffic report and re-routing. That's the standalone app though and not part of Windows Phone 8.

Source: Nokia Innovation

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