Nokia’s Creative Studio is an excellent photo editing app for its Lumia devices, but there are things that it isn’t that good at. Collages is one, adding borders another. Fortunately there is a excellent free app that can plug all these holes, and give the Creative Studio quite a run for its money. Fotor is free, and has been updated to take advantage of Windows Phone 8. It performs fluidly even on slightly lower spec’d devices like the Lumia 620 and 720, and makes for a very pleasant editing experience.
Inside settings you can choose to edit/save in the high resolution mode or go slightly lower res. for faster performance. The Collage option is fully featured, you can choose aspect ratios, designs, and even move the bars to increase or decrease space there is for each photo. Then, you can even add a pattern.
The borders can be curved or straight and you can choose the width as well. The app also comes with a one tap enhance mode, which has three levels.
You can use the Tilt Shift option to change focus, and also play with the contrast, saturation and blur/sharpen settings.
You cannot live without Whats App in today’s world. Its the first app that I install on any device that I’m using, and unfortunately for Windows Phone it has been a slightly sticky point. The problem was that Whats App used the streaming APIs to keep the app alive and waiting for push messages, and that method made it unreliable at times. Moreover, it meant that you could never use the play/pause/next shortcuts that pop up when the volume button is pressed, as Whats App had taken those over. All that ends now.
A huge Whats App for Windows Phone update is live in the Windows Phone Store, and it promises to change things for the better. While the app might still look similar, the entire internal mechanism has changed.
Whats App now has its own background agent, leaving the streaming API free. This should mean greater reliability, and better push notifications.
Tapping on the Whats App icon that you’ve pinned to the homescreen opens up the last screen that you were in before leaving the app. This makes jumping in and out of Whats App much more convenient.
Tapping the toast notification opens up the chat corresponding to that message.
The app is faster overall, and much quicker to resume.
You can now call people from within the chat, although it does take a couple of clicks while Windows Phone prompts you to confirm.
The app also tells you that you won’t receive push notifications while the battery saver mode is on. This is because Windows Phone restricts background activity during that time to preserve battery.
Sending and receiving contacts works well.
You can send video after recording it from within the app, but you still cannot send existing files.
Whats App gets proper Emoji. The style/layout is identical to what you’d see on iOS and Android.
Finally, if someone sends you a location it opens up the default Windows Phone maps app. You can’t choose to goto into Nokia Maps yet, but if you’d like to get driving directions, Nokia Drive opens up to guide you. This is a pretty big deal. I frequently ask people to Whats App me their location, and then use GPS to get there. Earlier, you couldn’t even view the location in a proper maps app, forget about navigating there.
Go grab the update here. Notice any other changes, let us know!
Shazam is one of my favourite apps, and I always wondered why it didn’t integrate with Nokia Music, specially now that Windows Phone 8 lets apps talk to each other. I tweeted this to the Shazam team, they responded. Fast forward a few months, and the integration is live.
@v4ibhav Good idea. We’ll pass it on to our product team. Check out the new upcoming releases for related updates. #shazamideas
The brand new Shazam app for Windows Phone 8 now lets you simply tap on the Nokia Music button in the song you’ve tagged, and it takes you the music store where you can buy/download the song.
This Shazam + Nokia Music combo is even more awesome if you live in India, or another country where Nokia Music has a subscription model. You listen to a song, like it, tag it and download it, all for the grand cost of zero.
In addition to Nokia Music, Shazam also gives you options to view the song on YouTube or download it from Xbox Music or get the artist biography or Discography.
While Nokia Maps and Drive (now rebranded as HERE Maps & Drive) have become available to other Windows Phone 8 users, the one location app that’s still a Nokia exclusive is City Lens. HERE City lens is an app that use augmented reality to show users points of interest around them. It uses a live feed from the camera’s viewfinder and places POIs on top of what you’re seeing through it, thus letting you know what is where.
This application has been available for a while, but despite all this time I didn’t really use it much. My belief was that it was more of a marketing tool for Nokia to get the WOW! rather than an app that could actually be useful in the real world. I was mistaken. While on a recent trip to San Francisco, I didn’t pack for the weather and needed to shop. Since, I had no clue about where I should be headed or which stores were around me, I decided to give City Lens a go on the Lumia 928, and I was impressed.
Once you launch the app, it lets you choose the kind of POI’s you want to see around you.
Then, you can just pan the camera around and see what is where, and how far it is.
But that’s not all, it you put the phone down, but still have it in the landscape mode, it will plot all those places on the map.
Finally, if you turn the phone into portrait mode, it will simply display a POI’s in a list, sorted by distance. Really useful if you’re looking to browse quickly.
I liked how the application responds to the manner in which you’re holding the phone. very smart and elegant. So the next time you’re in an unfamiliar location, don’t forget to give HERE City Lens a try, chances are that you’ll like what you see.
We’ve seen Open Mobile’s implementation of brining Android apps to Tizen before, but that method involves deployment on a platform level. The Open Mobile code needs to be a part of the Tizen code before the Android apps can be run on Tizen. Infraware, the company behind the Polaris App Player has a different approach.
The way this works in that they have a solution called PAG (Polaris App Generator) that lets the developer upload an Android app (APK) and it converts it into a TPK file that can be installed on the Tizen device. Then to run this modified TPK, you need to have the PAP (Polaris App Player) installed on the phone. Once that’s present, the modified TPK that you just installed will launch inside the PAP, and behave like a native Tizen app.
The company is giving away the Polaris App Player to users for free, in the hope that developers will use their service to deploy their Android apps to Tizen, thus making them money. While I have my doubts about Android Apps ‘officially’ being supported on Tizen, Infraware has a chance of succeeding as they don’t need to be a part of the platform, and have a business model as long as the developers and users are on board. Here is a video of the implementation in action:
While there is a noticeable slow down while running high performance games, most apps should run fine. Although, there will always be the issue of not all UI elements working properly because the app was originally made for Android in mind. The current implementation is based on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, so that means none of the ICS and up only apps, will be available. According to the company, PAG can port 80~90% of Android apps to Tizen app without re-compiling. Some examples include games such as Angrybird series, Counter Terrorist, Treasure Detective, Fruit Slice, Drag Racing, Shut Bubble Deluxe, Cut the Rope Free, Air Hockey etc.
Nokia’s Creative Studio has come a long way since it first came out. Its not only much faster, but it pretty much enables you to do anything with photos that you could think of. Earlier it allowed you to the basics – crop, rotate, add filters, adjust the colour balance, brightness, vibrancy, clarity and remove red eyes, quickly and easily. But the new update takes the Creative Studio’s abilities to a new level, enter:
Blur: Focus Object, Radial+Tilt Shift
Focus Object lets you manually draw around the subject you want to highlight and the blurs the background.
Radial mode does the same thing, but gives you a circle you can work with.
Tilt Shift on the other hand keeps everything between two parallel lines in focus and blurs the rest. You can also set the blur level.
Colour Pop – Turns the photo into black and white and then highlights the colours you choose.
Collage Mode – The first photo you choose is the biggest, and then you can keep adding photos. There is sadly no way to choose between different frames yet.
Creative Studio is a free download from the Windows Phone Store. Thr best part about this update is that it works flawlessly on the slightly lower spec-d, Lumia 520, 620 and 720 as well.