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November 6, 2012

What’s new in photos and video for Windows Phone 8

My love of photography started at a young age when my grandpa gave me my first camera. He had a darkroom in his house, and taught me the basics of composing a great shot, developing film by hand (remember film?), and getting my prints to come out just right so I could share them with family and friends. I carefully stored these images away in protective albums so they’d always be safe.

Today I help build the camera and photo features for Windows Phone. A lot’s changed since I was a kid, but the story hasn’t: People still love taking, tweaking, and sharing photos—and worry about keeping them safe. But rather than a point-and-shoot or SLR, we’re increasingly pulling out our phones.

The last two Windows Phone releases introduced a number of innovations, but in Windows Phone 8 the photo story gets even better—with an amazing new feature called Lenses, improved image quality, new editing tools, cloud-based backup, and new ways to manage and share multiple photos. We’ve also tackled several of your top feature requests.


Introducing Lenses

Previous versions of Windows Phone introduced several time-savers, including the ability to snap and share pictures without unlocking the phone and automatic face detection for easier tagging. The Photos Hub also shows all your pictures in one place—whether they’re saved on your phone, Facebook, or SkyDrive—so you don’t have to fumble with a bunch of separate apps.

In Windows Phone 8, we’ve added an innovation called Lenses: apps that integrate directly into your phone’s viewfinder and Camera Roll, helping you unleash your creativity like never before.

A Lens might fix the goofy face that one of your friends made, apply a cool filter, create an immersive 3D panorama, or superimpose a pirate hat and wooden leg on someone. Just launch the camera, tap the Lenses button in the viewfinder to select one, and start shooting.

In Windows Phone 8, we’ve also given app developers more direct access to the camera hardware, and I can’t wait to see what kinds of creative Lenses they build in response. Watch for them in the Windows Phone Store.


Windows Phone 8 gives developers the tools to create all kinds of creative new Lens apps for your phone camera.

Focusing on quality

In our new release we really doubled down on capture quality, with a lot of help from our hardware partners. And new Windows Phone 8 models are already winning head-to-head photo and video challenges against competitors. (My point-and-shoot camera is definitely collecting some dust.)

We also made some design changes to streamline and improve the overall picture taking experience. Many of these tweaks stemmed from observations of how our customers actually used their Windows Phones and which options they tap most.

For example, we found that many of you were frequently digging into Settings for the flash button. So in Windows Phone 8 the flash toggle was placed front and center, available in one tap. We also heard you wanted zoom levels to be more fluid, so now you can just pinch or stretch your fingers directly on the viewfinder itself to zoom.


We’ve reorganized the buttons on the viewfinder to put the ones you use most front and center.

Easy screenshots

Of course, sometimes you don’t just want to take pictures with your phone, but of your phone. The ability to take screenshots was one of your top 10 most requested features, and I’m happy to report it’s now possible in Windows Phone 8.

Just tap the power and Start buttons at the same time, and your phone will snap a picture of whatever’s showing on the screen and save it to the Photos Hub.

Editing improvements

In our last release we made it easier to quickly fix mistakes with the built-in Autofix feature. In Windows Phone 8 we added more editing capabilities so it’s even better at cleaning up photos:

  • Crop. Drag the handles to adjust the crop area. If you want a
    predefined aspect ratio, just tap the Aspect Ratio button to see common
  • Rotate. Each tap of the Rotate button turns your photo 90 degrees
  • Smarter Autofix. Tapping this option automatically adjusts exposure
    levels, color balance, and sharpness to make your photos look their best. Tap
    again to undo these changes. Autofix is even better at one-touch cleanup with
    the improvements we made to it in Windows Phone 8.
  • New app integration. If the built-in editing options aren’t enough,
    you can now launch your favorite photo-editing app while you’re looking at a
    photo, without navigating to the App list first.

More ways to share

You’ve captured some great photos with your favorite Lenses, then cropped or fixed them up. Now you’re ready to show them off. In Windows Phone 8, we’ve expanded the number of sharing options and made the process more efficient.

Your top Pictures feature request was the ability to multi-select photos. Now you can do that, and upload these images to Facebook and SkyDrive while tracking upload status within the Photos Hub. Multi-select is handy for other reasons, too: quickly deleting a few blurry shots, copying photos to an SD card, or adding them to Favorites so they’ll decorate your Photos tile on Start.

Windows Phone can already share photos and videos via MMS and email. To these options, Windows Phone 8 adds direct Bluetooth and “tap to send” (NFC) sharing. If your phone model supports it, you can also use your removable SD card and share images “sneakernet” style.



Windows Phone 8 gives you lots of options for sharing photos and videos.

Keep your shots safe

I don’t store my photos in dusty old albums anymore, but I’m still obsessed with keeping them safe. Who knows when I’m going to accidentally leave my phone in a cab, or get thrown into a swimming pool by some friends that didn’t think to empty my pockets first?

We heard loud and clear that you wanted photo backup, and in Windows Phone 8 we’re delivering just that.

Windows Phone has always had the ability to automatically upload photos to SkyDrive for safe keeping, but, as some of you noticed, images were downsized first, and videos weren’t uploaded at all. This was done to minimize the cost to your data plan, conserve battery life, and avoid filling up your SkyDrive storage.


Pictures are now uploaded to SkyDrive in full resolution over Wi-Fi.

In Windows Phone 8, you can automatically upload your photos and videos to SkyDrive in full, original, untouched resolution using Wi-Fi. If you haven’t already, you should really check out the new SkyDrive with its 7 GB of free online storage. I can’t imagine a better way to keep my photos and videos safe and have access to them from any device, anywhere I go.

As awesome as SkyDrive is, we know people also love services like Flickr, SmugMug, and Dropbox, and want to keep the photos there, too. So in Windows Phone 8 we’ve made it possible for apps to automatically upload your photos in the background—and chances are there’s already an app being developed for the photo service of your choice.

Finally, some people prefer to store copies of their photos on their home PC. And Windows 8, the latest release of Windows for desktop and tablet PCs, is the perfect companion to Windows Phone 8. Just plug your phone into your Windows 8 computer, and it will auto-install the new Windows Phone app for moving files back and forth.


Just the beginning

I hope you’re as excited as we are about the new photo-related features and improvements on the way. We love to hear your feedback. And, as I hope I’ve shown, we do take it seriously. Let me know what you think.

Learn more about taking and sharing photos in Windows Phone 8.