Windows Phone Devs Denied Access To Camera

According to Fortune, WP7 devs are hitting a roadblock with certain app types: they can’t control the camera. For reasons unknown, the SDK didn’t include the tools or documentation for pulling information from the lens. Which makes making photography, video chat and AR apps just about impossible.

Two app makers interested in developing for Windows Phone 7, Layar and Fring, told Fortune they can’t access the application programming interface (API) for the camera control in WP7 devices, so it’s a no go for now. Some of the iPhone’s most popular apps, like Layar, Yelp and Trulia, offer augmented reality modes that can show users a live shot of whatever they point their phone at, paired with location based information about the area. But for WP7 users, there’s no augmented reality possible, nor is there, as Fring offers, access to third-party video chatting or perhaps more importantly, the ability to tinker with the camera outside of the phone’s native camera application, to come up with new ways to use it.

Microsoft’s response was canned and non-specific:

“Windows Phone 7 delivers an all managed code platform in order to provide developers with an easier and faster way to build higher quality and more captivating applications based on the proven and widely adopted Silverlight and XNA Framework technologies.”

This is a major, major screw-up on Microsoft’s behalf. Photography and augmented reality apps are both extremely high profile, and Fring is arguably the best VoIP app around. Without access to the camera, you don’t get crazy hipster Lomo apps, apps that can search Amazon via barcodes, and dozens of others. It could just be that this was one of the features that didn’t get completely ironed out by launch, but still, that’s a major problem, and a major feature missing.


  1. Bjørn says

    But there is already a AR app available. I believe the LG phones have that app out of the box installed. So if LG can do it, why can’t layer and others devs do it?

  2. Jamal says

    Microsoft shouldn’t start doing this now. They’ll only discourage other devs from working on WinPho7. At this point they should be trying their hardest to please the devs, not blow them off. It seems that they forgot that they were the underdogs in this competition.

  3. Seth says

    It’s a mystery how LG has that AR app, when nobody else can access these things.

    Did Microsoft give LG permission to access the native code? As stated in the article, it is a rather big shortcoming that devs have not been given access to these features.

  4. Fred says

    Video camera is restricted not camera.
    From Fortune:
    “Update: In an additional statement issued after publication, Microsoft clarified its stance with developers. The company provides third-party developers access to the camera for taking photos, but does not dispute the omission of camera video access as required for augmented reality and video chat”

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