windows phone

What's Nokia brought to the mobile photography landscape with its new phones?

There's been a lot of love for the cameras that Nokia have been squishing into their mobile phones of late. It isn't just about the 41 megapixels found in the Lumia 1020, but more about their cameras' quite impressive low-light capability, image stabilisation, and the control that the camera app affords you. With the anouncement of the Nokia 1520 and 1320 in Abu Dhabi today, has anything new been brought into play in the smartphone landscape? Let's start with introduction of a Windows phone-compatible Instagram app. Instagram is hardly new to smartphoneography and if filtered, shared photos don't float your boat, it'll hardly seem like a big deal. However, for people at Microsoft and Nokia, the lack of an Instagam app on their phones was considered to be a significant factor in holding back sales of their devices when compared against Instagram-friendly iOS and Android. The Windows phone has now been opened up to a wealth of people who might otherwise have dismissed it out-of-hand, and with it, its camera's capabilities and functionality have been pitted against those of other manufacturers.

That's the 20 megapixel Lumia 1520

Lots of the other toys might not bring anything revolutionary to the Lumia cameras, but they are fun and functional.

The new Refocus app isn't new to camera technology—it's the same idea as a Lytro, allowing you to refocus your images after you've taken them—and something similar is available for iPhones, with the Focus Twist app, but it is bringing more functionality to Nokia phones and giving more options to users. Refocus also allows your Facebook friends (and other socially networked people) to fiddle with your photos and interact with them.

The Beamer app and the Storyteller function are meant to make Nokia phones more interactive, too. Beamer will allow you to share photos with anyone whose screen is compatible via a via social media, email, or SMS link. Storyteller creates a temporal story of your photos, placing them on a map along with chronological notation.

Previously, there were two separate camera apps in Nokia phones: Smart Cam and Pro Cam. These have now been combined into a single Nokia Camera app, which should make shooting quicker and simpler.

But the introduction of Raw file support does signal that Microsoft/ Nokia does mean business with its cameras. If they can do it, why shouldn't or couldn't any other camera manufacturer? We're seeing the gradual adoption of larger and larger sensors into smaller and smaller camera bodies; why not the introduction of Raw files into smartphones as standard?

Instagram, meet Windows

It has only taken three years since Instagram's launch and 18 months since the Android app was released, but people using Windows phones will no longer have to indulge in techno-shenanigans or work via third party apps, some of which pushed Instagram's patience, to access Instagram. The news was made public at the Nokia World conference in Abu Dhabi earlier today and then confirmed by Instagram. According to Instagram's CEO, Kevin Systrom, 'Our ultimate goal is to bring Instagram to everyone who wants to use it.' As a consequence, an Instagram app will be rolled out to Windows phones users in the next few weeks.

With Windows phones being all dressed up in terms of cameras but having fewer photo sharing parties to go to, Nokia and Microsoft had been pushing for Instagram compatibility with their devices for quite some time. As far as they were concerned, the lack of access was something that gave iOS and Android platform phones a significant edge. How much this changes anything with respect to numbers and sales figures remains to be seen, but Nokia and Microsoft are certainly feeling quite happy about this right now.

(Headsup to the Verge)

From Pixels to Postcards

I've done a lot of travelling over the past year (In fact, I'll only be in London for about 100 days in all of 2011 - how's that for a crazy travel schedule), but of course, the People Back Home™ want to know what I've been up to. I do post all my stuff to Flickr as I go along, but sometimes you want to send them a postcard when you're out and about.

There are a slurry of Take-a-photo-send-a-postcard services out there, but some are absolutely useless. The worst failure of the lot is ShootIt, which didn't manage to get any of my postcards to my dying grandmother. Suffice to say that I don't have a lot of time for them.

After I posted the ShootIt post, the lovely people from TouchNote got in touch, with a simple message: "Sorry for your loss, give us a try". I figured 'what the hell', and went for it.

I'll be honest with you, I haven't looked back: The postcards are of fantastic quality, the service is easy to use, and they keep their promises: Postcards are sent out by first class mail the next day, and they arrive promptly most of the time.

Testing the iPhone app

The only hiccup with the service was that their iPhone app wasn't really all that easy to use. No problem, of course, but if you're on the road, it's nifty to be able to take a photo with your iPhone, edit it in Photoshop Express, and then send it as a real postcard to your friends or family. The great news is that they've just updated their app, making it super easy to use.

The service isn't limited only to iPhones, by the way; It's available on iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7, and Palm devices, and apparently they have managed to convince Sony Ericsson to pre-install their app on millions of phones starting next year, so suffice to say that it seems they've got the economy of scale working for them.

Anyway... The iPhone app. It is so easy to use, in fact, that I can just post a series of images, and you'll see exactly how it all works:








And that was it. Easy, eh? Of course, I did already go to the web-site to add 'credits' (that's 'postcards' to you and me) to my account, which makes it all a little bit smoother.

How much does it cost?

Touchnote charge 1.49 for their postcards. "One fourty-nine what, I hear you cry" - well, anything. It's £1.49 if you're in the UK, $1.49 in the US, and €1.49 in Euroland. Obviously, you're better off paying in Dollars, but whatever currency you're paying, it's a pretty good deal: Here in the UK, at least, you'll frequently find yourself paying £1 for a post-card (and losing your will to live in the process).

Of course, you can also buy more credits in one go, which saves you a nice chunk of cash in the process:



I love technology. I love photography. I love being able to send post-cards directly from my iPhone. The idea is such a no-brainer, that it's no wonder that there's plenty of people out there offering the service. All they have to do to do it well, is to offer a great service at a good price. In my mind, that's where Touchnote have got their product bang on the money. Competitively priced, great quality, easy to use, and just all-around lovely.

The only downside, I suppose, is that your postcards lose that "ooh, look, a foreign stamp" exotica that you get from getting a postcard sent from a far-flung corner of the world. On the other hand, if you're anything like me, you'll probably forget to post it until you get home and end up sticking a UK stamp on it anyway, so that hardly makes much of a difference.

So - Touchnote. It's highly recommended, and you should definitely give them a shot. Literally.