They have been around in a handsets for a while, and although intended mainly for video chats, have also emerged as perhaps the most selfish feature of handsets. We are talking of front-facing cameras in handsets, which, notwithstanding the “for video chats” tag are also used for that most vain of imaging pursuits – taking a snap of oneself. Not that they have yielded the greatest results – tech fate (and common sense) has decreed that the front facing camera plays pauper to the rear camera’s prince in most devices. However, the past few months have seen a slight change in the fortunes of these generally placed-above-the-display shooters.
Their megapixel count is on the rise (a company in India has come out with a cameraphone with a 5.0-megapixel front-facing camera) and so are the features that come with it – the HTC 8X’s front camera came with facial recognition as did the iPhone 5’s. And now Nokia has added a further spin on the vanity snapping game with the aptly named Glam Me, an app designed to not just take your pictures, but also, to borrow a phrase from the make-up room, touch them up.
Of course, there will be those who will debate the very need of such an app. After all, one can always take a snap of oneself and then Instagram (or whatever-app-you-like-to-tweak-images) it. Where Nokia’s Glam Me scores however, is in its ease of use, and its effectiveness. A free 13 MB download, it is currently a Nokia Lumia exclusive and runs only on Windows Phone 8 devices, but is expected to come to other brands soon. Or at least inspire a few clones across platforms.
For, we must confess that we rather like Glam Me. The app does only one thing, but it manages to do it rather well. Using it is easy. Launching the app opens the front facing camera, and you can either touch the screen to take a picture of yourself or if you need time to pose, set a timer. Once the picture is taken, the app automatically tries to “improve” your appearance by smoothing out and lightening your skin. If the result does not please you, you can also try you hand at tweaking your eyes, teeth, image tone and also soften the look of the picture – a neat touch at this stage is the comparison option that splits your face in half, with one half showing how your mug would have appeared minus the app’s touching-up magic, and the other showing you the joys of letting an app mess with your skin tone. Yes, it makes you feel like something out of a facial cream ad, but it is kind of cool!
The result of your labours can be shared on your social networks and mail. And that pretty much is it. You can only edit pictures that you have just taken – there is no option to edit images that already exist on your device. And all your editing options end once you have added a special effect – you cannot then go back and mess around with eyes and teeth (ghoulish though that sounds) in the app, although you can open the picture in another image editing app and mess around with it.
So yes, Glam Me is a rather restricted app. But what saves it from flak is the simplicity with which it works and the fact that it does manage to serve a decent dollop for its download, although we did find the images to be a bit too “soft” (almost blurry) for comfort at times. The app also does not work as well in low light conditions so we would recommend standing in broad daylight and clicking yourself (stuff the stares, say we!) for best results.
It is not work. It promotes vanity. It works only on a limited number of devices. But hey, when it works, it does so brilliantly. We are hoping for an update on more devices and a few clones. It is time that front-facing camera got the recognition it deserves – hey, anything that takes images of the person who shelled out the bucks for a device merits lots of attention in our book. Well worth a download if you have a Lumia with a front facing camera. (we tested it out on a Lumia 920, incidentally)
Available from: Windows Phone Store