Following today’s news that Microsoft has released a Photosynth app for iOS I just thought I ‘d point out something that I’ve not seen anyone else point out so far. There is a video on the Bing Community site that explicitly says that Photosynth is “coming next to Windows Phone”. Obviously it provides no indication of when or if it will have more features than its iOS counterpart but I’d like to think that Microsoft would look after its own and have a very competitive app to that on iOS. The fact that it doesn’t say “coming soon” makes me think we shouldn’t expect it within the next month or so.
How are readers liking the Photosynth iOS app?
Update: Blaise Aguera y Arcas the architect of Bing Mobile and Bing Maps has posted an article to his personal blog about the new Photosynth app. Within the article are two very interesting points. Firstly he writes about why it is that the Photosynth app has come to iOS first and not Windows Phone. Its quite simple really, with iPhone’s maturity it possible for app developers to write their app in very low-level code which is needed for the algorithms to be so quick. Windows Phone does not yet offer this functionality but Blaise says that it is coming soon. The paragraphs about Windows Phone are shown below.
I’m sure over the coming days and weeks we’ll be answering, over and over, the “why didn’t this ship first on Microsoft’s own phone” question. Our approach to the design of the Photosynth app hopefully provides some evidence that we very much think of Windows Phone 7 as brethren and inspiration, not to mention proof that Microsoft can make beautiful things. (Such a joy and a relief, after the previous generation of Windows phones!) If we could have shipped first on these devices, we would have. But the level of camera and low-level algorithmic hacking needed to make Photosynth work meant that, if we wanted to get this out as quickly as possible— and we surely did— we needed to do so on a platform that provided the necessary low-level device access. Windows Phone 7 doesn’t yet allow this for apps. It will soon. It’s worth keeping in mind that the first several generations of iPhone device and OS wouldn’t have allowed us to build this app either. For now, iPhone’s platform maturity— and of course the large number of people with iPhones out there— meant that it made sense for us to go for it.
At Bing we’re always interested in reaching as many people as possible, which means we’ll always develop for multiple platforms. But over time, we’ll be doing more and more of our early innovation on the Windows Phone.
There was a second and perhaps more surprising revelation from Blaise’s article; Microsoft is working on a HTML5 viewer for Photosynths. Currently to view Photosynths in a browser Silverlight is required but not for long by the sounds of it. I think this is great news and I will be interested to see in what form the HTML5 viewer takes and whether it will be useable on mobile devices that support HTML5 (with Blaise being head of Bing Mobile it makes sense it would work very well on mobile devices).
The best way to experience a panorama is in an immersive viewer, which reprojects the imagery interactively into a smaller window, allowing you to rotate. We’re working on viewers that let these things happen in native Web-ese, though it requires advanced browsers (HTML5, Canvas or CSS3). In the meantime, it can be done with Silverlight.
It sounds to me like Microsoft is going to be pushing Photosynth more than it has done before now, perhaps in a bid to gain a useful unique feature over Google’s imaging and maps offerings. This is great news, for me at least, as I have loved Photosynth from day 1, it really is great.