Windows Phone 7 limits camera access for apps

Developers can make use of Windows Phone 7's camera to snap a pic or short video, but they can't add advanced things like video chat or augmented reality to their programs.

Steve Ballmer, speaking with CNET after Microsoft's New York launch of Windows Phone 7. CNET

Microsoft's tight design rules require all Windows Phone 7 devices to have a pretty nice camera on them; they must tout at least 5 megapixels and video capture to boot. Unfortunately, Redmond's new phone operating system has limitations that mean developers can't fully take advantage of the lenses.

Although Windows Phone 7 devices can record and upload video and pictures, application developers can't fully take advantage of those image sensors to do other fun things like video chat and augmented reality.

That means that not only will Windows Phone 7 not have as many apps as Android-based phones or the iPhone when the first devices go on sale in the U.S. next month , but there will also be whole classes of programs that we just won't see--at least for this version of Windows Phone.

Microsoft has gotten generally high marks for Windows Phone 7, particularly for its design and interface--and deservedly so. The company also deserves credit for having hundreds of programs ready for launch with more being added every day. However, as critics point out, there are still some key things missing--and full access to the image sensor is just the latest limitation to draw attention.

Other drawbacks include the lack of copy and paste (though that is being remedied with an update due early next year), no CDMA version until the first half of next year, as well as the lack of true multitasking. That last issue means that while one can listen to the built-in Zune player while running another app, the same is not true when listening to Slacker or Iheartradio.

This may be part of the reason that Microsoft's marketing appears to go after people eyeing their first smartphone rather than attempting to lure existing owners away from their Android device or iPhone.

 

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