From the very beginning, as you’ve no doubt heard us say, Windows Phone has been about delivering outstanding experiences to end users and giving developers contextually relevant mechanisms to expose their offerings, so that apps aren’t hidden deep on the fifth page of a grid of icons never to be used again. Instead, we’ve built in extensibility points throughout our OS so that end users see your apps when they’re relevant, giving you a better opportunity to develop a relationship with your users.
One of the ways we’re expanding on this approach in Windows Phone 8 is with the new Lenses feature. Lenses enable developers to do something that can’t be done on any other platform: extend the native camera viewfinder of the phone. The camera application space is currently a hotbed of innovation; our Lenses feature makes Windows Phone a compelling place to build these types of apps.
For users, lenses are presented as an option every time they use the camera on their phone. Lenses give users a contextually relevant way to access your photo manipulation apps. From the lens space in the UI, users can directly access a listing of lens apps in the Windows Phone Store.
User clicks on lens button to bring up
available lenses, or find more
Here are a few examples of the lens feature in a few prominent apps on Windows Phone 8:
- Bing Translator: frame foreign words in the camera viewfinder, and get instant translations.
- Cam Wow: real-time camera filters and effects.
- ReadyClick: use your voice to activate the camera shutter.
We’ve produced quite a few resources to help you get started building Lens applications today:
- Introduction to Lenses, on Inside Windows Phone
- PM Eric Bennet’s great talk from BUILD 2012 on Building Lens Applications
- The Lens Design Guidelines from the MSDN Library
- A great Lens code sample in the MSDN Code Gallery
- The segment on camera use from the WP8 Jumpstart module 9 (“Using Phone Resources”)
- Overview of Lens content on the MSDN Library
Lenses are a perfect example of how the underlying philosophy of Windows Phone translates in to real tangible ways in which you can innovate, build, and publish outstanding apps in ways that can’t quite be done on the other platforms.