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Nokia has shown-off an app including photographic features unlike anything yet available in compact cameras - suggesting camera makers will need to consider apps if they're to remain competitive. The Camera Extras app includes a 'Smart Group Shot' mode that takes five images and chooses the 'best' faces for each of the subjects. It's also possible to manually select which face you want for each of your subject. It's a useful and consumer-friendly feature that helps to underline the challenge that compact camera makers face - competing not just with the convenience and connectivity of smartphones, but also their app-based approach that allows extra features to be offered, separately from the normal model development cycle.
This flexibility, and the increased software development effort that a potentially profitable app market can help to foster, means smartphones risk making conventional compacts look out-of-date almost as soon as they're released. While several camera makers are looking to offer the convenience of improved connectivity, the existence of this kind of feature-adding photo app suggests that they might need to offer app-ready cameras, if they're to really compete with the rise of the smartphone.
Camera Extras was developed by Scalado (a software maker all-but bought-out by the Finnish handset maker last week), which has caught our attention before for its difference-based 'Remove' technology (that sadly hasn't appeared as a standalone app, despite the company recently starting to sell apps to the public). The Smart Group Shot feature appears to be an implementation of the company's 'Rewind' technology, that is also likely to underpin a similar feature RIM has demoed for its forthcoming BB10 operating system.