Photosynth, the immensely popular photo app for iPhone, is an official Microsoft release, and that’s why its absence from the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace has been a source of constant annoyance for Mango users, especially given to the fact that the official client for the photo-stitching service has been around in the iOS App Store for a long time. Finally, the guys over in Redmond have paid attention to their own mobile platform, and Photosynth is now available in the WP7 Marketplace! The app can be used to view the gorgeous 360-degree panorama images that characterize Photosynth, and not only that; you can use the app to create your own panoramas, too! Of course, there are a few shortcomings and limitations when you compare the WP7 client with the iOS one, but overall, the app is everything users have always wished for. Read on for details and screenshots.
Before we discuss all the good features offered by Photosynth for WP7, let’s highlight the biggest drawback it suffers. The app is not fully compatible with most Windows Phone 7 devices (even our Lumia 800 didn’t qualify). Don’t get too disappointed though; even if your phone lacks a gyroscope or some other component important for the app, you will still be able to use all the features of Photosynth – just with minor performance degradations. I believe most people can live with that.
So, after you have gone through all the notifications and permissions in the Marketplace, you are ready to shoot some seriously awesome panoramas. If you want, it is possible to sign up for a Photosynth account before proceeding (requires nothing more than the linking of your Live ID with the app). However, you may shoot photos even without an account. Just go to the app’s main screen and tap the preview window provided there. Photosynth comes up with a lot of tips and tricks regarding shooting, but if your device is fully compatible, things shouldn’t be too difficult. Just stand in one position (in the middle of the room, if you are indoors), point the device’s camera towards one corner, and let the app capture the image (the frame will turn green, followed by the camera shutter sound). Just keep moving the camera in a circle until all the area has been captured. Make sure you shoot every area of the grid, and populate the checkered background completely. You can also prompt the Photosynth cam to capture a view manually by tapping the framed area. If you make a mistake, or a moving object comes into one of the frames, hit the undo button. When all is done, hit the checkmark in the bottom bar.
Almost as good as the app’s camera is its viewer. The Featured section of Photosynth lists some of the most popular 360-degree panoramas that have been publicly shared by other Photosynth users. The sidebar in the viewer lets you jump to any particular frame of the image. If you want to manually probe the whole scene, tilt your device (if it sports a gyro) or just swipe across the screen to navigate around the image. The panoramas can be shared over Facebook and Twitter as well, thanks to the free Photosynth.net service.
Photosynth for WP7 might not be perfect yet (the interface looks quite unpolished), but it certainly gets the job done. So, if you own a Windows Phone, you just have to give it a try by heading to the following link, where it is available for free.