pictures hub on Windows Phone is the most beautiful picture gallery, I have ever seen till date:
I am again taking the risk of being called as just another blogger going Ga Ga over Windows Phones, but one has to admit that while Windows Phone manages to make even dumb and dead Text feel alive, it doesn’t actually hate pictures at all, but kind of love them more passionately.
Opening the picture hub, takes you to the screen with Pictures written in bold on the top and four headings underneath.
camera roll, albums, date and people (did you noticed that all headings are non-caps)
Camera roll obviously denotes the pictures taken from the camera only. You find all your pictures stocked here in a fashion of four snaps per row and screen real estate allows 5×4 snaps at a time to be visible on screen that way. If you notice then you will find that camera roll is kept separate from rest of the tabs like albums, date, people and favourites. May be it has been setup so because you may access camera roll portion of your gallery directly from Camera UI itself.
albums brings all your albums from your phone folders or from all your linked accounts like Facebook\Skydrive at one place. It stocks the albums in a fashion of two albums in each row and allows almost 3×2 albums to stay in the provided screen real estate. Same goes with people tab that may be accessed by swiping sideways from here and shows off the albums from social profiles of your friends. Swiping sideways allows you to go through Windows Phone panoramic view which allow you to navigate into subgroups like people (photos from social profiles of your friends), albums, date and favourites.
Back in pictures hub, its also divided in swipable sections like people hub. After the first section containing the mentioned sub-heading, rest two sections are favourites and what’s new section like people hub, which shows of recently uploaded pictures from social profiles of your friends be it Twitter,Facebook, LinkedIn or Windows Live.
Thumbnail generation seems perfect and zooming in been way faster than my Nokia N8 or Samsung Galaxy S at least, which feels almost instant rather than waiting for one second or more to let the image come clear in full screen. In case of online images, it creates the thumbnails first (feels very optimized and faster even on EDGE connections), then download and cache the image only if one viewed the same specifically.
Like I said in other part, I couldn’t manage to get the info that for how long it caches an image, but with a 3G or strong wifi connection it always seems to be instant job and I always wondered if some kind of magic happening behind.
While viewing a picture, the options available in more (…) menu are the followings:
share on twitter/facebook/skydrive (whichever you chosen in pictures+camera settings)
use as wallpaper
add to favourites
As you can see, it lacks two very important options that are edit and details.
Absence of details shows that Microsoft allowing very less access to the image metadata and a common user can’t even check if wants to know that on which date the picture was taken or where the picture was taken or what the size of an individual image is (though date subgroups gives you an idea of the month taken at least).
Absence of adequate photo\video editor on board could be termed as one of the weakness of Windows Phones as of now. Though there are some nice paid alternatives like Photo Editor from AM or Pictures Lab already available, but having one on board natively is something very different from buying or downloading an app.
Even if editor is absent from Windows Phone as of now, you find an interesting option built-in here that is named as auto-fix. Works great for the n00bs, who just want to fix the brightness and color issues mainly.
As about the sharing option, then while Skydrive or Facebook uploads works perfectly, sad to see that choice of twitter picture upload actually generates a public Skydrive link to that picture and upload the picture to Skydrive only. Sad because as of now, none of the Twitter client support preview from Skydrive except those on Windows Phone itself. Would have been better if Windows Phone was using Twitter image upload APIs.
One interesting option that is available with online picture is the option to save them to phone. You can save any twitter\Faceboo photos to your phone just by going into more (…) button.