Windows Phone 7, Day 17: Taking and Sharing Pictures with WP7

30 Days With Windows Phone 7: Day 17

Just about every mobile phone--whether a smartphone or traditional "feature phone"--has a camera, and the Samsung Focus with Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" that I am using is no exception. But, not all mobile phone cameras are created equally, and not all mobile operating systems offer the same picture-taking experience, so today I am taking a closer look at taking pictures with Windows Phone 7.

Using the Camera

Windows Phone 7.5
I use my smartphone as a camera almost as much as a phone.
I will start with my favorite camera feature of Windows Phone 7. Actually, there are two, but they are interrelated. I love the fact that my "Mango" device has a physical button for the camera on the side of the phone. Not only that, but you can use the button to activate the camera function and take a picture even when the smartphone is locked.

It is frustrating to see something interesting and want to take a picture of it, but have the moment gone before I can swipe, enter the password to unlock the smartphone, navigate to the camera app, and tap it just to take a picture. With "Mango" on this Samsung Focus, I can just hold down the camera button on the side of the phone and it opens straight to the camera function.

It's possible to disable this function from within the Pictures + Camera settings. At face value it seems to be an issue to be able to bypass the password security on my smartphone just by holding down the camera button, but Microsoft has considered the security implications as well. I can take pictures, and I can review the pictures I have taken, but I can't access the rest of the Windows Phone 7 operating system.

In fact, I can't even see the rest of the camera roll, or post or share the pictures while in this locked-down camera mode (although the pictures are still automatically uploaded to my SkyDrive folder if that option is enabled--more on that in a bit). If I tap the back arrow or Start button at the bottom of the phone, it just takes me to the initial lock screen. There is a padlock icon at the upper left that I can tap as well to enter my password and unlock the device from within the camera function.

Tapping the screen to take a picture does not feel natural, and it often makes me end up with my finger in front of the lens, or moving the smartphone from where I wanted it positioned. When it comes to actually taking a picture, the camera button on the "Mango" device works the way the button works on most point and shoot cameras--depress partially to focus, wait for beep, and depress fully to take picture.

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