Camera phones have been apart of our lives for some time now; since around the beginning of the 2000s, and, of course, they are an incredibly popular method for taking pictures in today's world. So much so, in fact, the idea of camera phones replace digital cameras has the picture-taking device of choice has been discussed since 2004, at least.
With that in mind, when the robust capabilities of the new Windows Mango (version 7.5) phones, which should be available in the U.S. soon, was featured at Microsoft's Windows Phone Blog, it's hard not to take notice, even if you're a committed iPhone or Android user.
Microsoft is apparently quite impressed with Mango's photo-taking capabilities; so much so, in fact, they gave the ability to take pictures with Mango smartphones a proper title: Pictures on Windows Phone. Apparently, picture-taking experiences need to be categorized; although, it's understandable why, in a smartphone world dominated by Apple and Google, Microsoft would want to distinguish Mango's picture-taking potential, even if they uses obtuse titles to do so.
Nevertheless, as the blog post in question reveals, Mango will indeed offer a lot of capabilities to picture-takers, ones they may not be readily aware of. Naturally, there's a social networking element to the Pictures on Windows Phone experience, one that was identified by the following quote:
"In the People view on the Pictures Hub, you can see the photos of the people you interact with the most on your phone," [program manager Aaron Sauve] says. "The idea is that you want to get to more pictures from people who are important to you, not just the recent stuff you see in the What’s New feed."
Granted, these high-interaction people will likely be a friend, but if not, there could be some privacy backlash over this capability, at least if it was a technology being discussed by Google. The post's author, Juliette Guilbert, even jokes about the same thing by saying:
That’s how I got to see my sister-in-law’s homecoming dance photo from 1989 (I love her, so the details are confidential).
The post also offers a comprehensive list of new features users can expect, although, some of these features may not be available in all countries:
- Autofix—Apply some common photographic fixes to a picture, on your phone, in one tap.
- Touch focus and capture—Tap any spot on the screen to focus there and take the shot. (This varies according to hardware—some phones will have tap-to-capture but will still automatically center focus.)
- Sticky settings—Save your custom camera settings for next time.
- Ability to mute the shutter sound—Good for taking pictures at those school holiday pageants (not available in all countries and regions).
Review pictures above the lock—Snap a photo when your phone is locked, then take a peek at it above the lock. You’ll only be able to get to photos you just took—better for security.
- Changes for portrait orientation—Now, when you take a picture in portrait orientation, you’ll see it in portrait orientation when you review it.
- Video sharing—Send your vids in email or post them to Facebook or SkyDrive.
- Twitter integration—Tweet your pics!
- Easy picture tagging on upload to Facebook or SkyDrive.
- View and add tags on your friends’ Facebook and SkyDrive pictures.
- Integration with the People Hub—View your friends' albums on their contact cards and on Group cards.
- People view—See snapshots and albums from your favorite contacts in the Pictures Hub.
- Personalize—Tag some favorites and choose Shuffle background in the Pictures Hub, and you’ll see your favorite photos on the Hub and on Start.
- When you choose a photo from within an app, you can now pick from online albums on Facebook or SkyDrive, not just pictures saved on your phone.
- Quick access to the Camera Roll—Before, it took two taps in the Pictures Hub to get the photos you’ve snapped. Now it’s front and center.
- Apps pane—Developers can register their photo-related apps to show up in the Pictures Hub for easy access.
- Autoshare to SkyDrive changed to Automatically upload to SkyDrive, which you can turn on to upload a lower-res version of every picture you take to a private location on SkyDrive.
- Pin any album to Start, including Facebook albums.
As you can see, the Pictures on Windows Phone experience has a heavy focus on the social aspect of technology, but there's also some creative uses of the technology in general, including touch focus and capture. Having a hard time centering that shot you're so desperately trying to take? Simply touch the area of interest and the phone does the rest. The "mute the shutter sound" capability would also be useful if you're trying to sneak a picture of that amazingly hot chick sitting at the bar.
We wouldn't want her calling you out for unsolicited picture-taking, would we?
With all of that in mind, what are your thoughts on the Pictures on Windows Phone? If you're getting ready to buy a new mobile device, does such a reveal give you pause about buying a new iPhone or is there nothing Microsoft can do to win your heart? Let us know what you think.