Camera+ is a very useful app if you use your iPhone to take photographs, It includes lots of great editing features and gives you the option to have the iPhone wait until you are holding the iPhone perfectly still before a picture is taken, reducing the risk of blurry pictures. It can display an onscreen grid when you take a picture so that you can make sure that your picture is straight. The app also greatly improves on the built-in Camera app's ability to focus and set white balance while taking a picture by tapping a spot on the screen; this app lets you tap once for focus and then tap a second time for exposure, allowing you to focus in one one part of the image while adjusting the white balance based on another part of the image. That one feature alone, while somewhat difficult to describe in words, let's you take much better pictures that you can with the built-in Camera app.
Another nice feature is that Camera+ saves pictures to a "lightbox" within the app itself so that you can later select the pictures that are worth saving to the Photos app on the iPhone. Besides editing pictures in the lightbox by cropping them, adding borders, etc., the app comes with a bunch of great filters, far better than any other camera app I've seen. For example, the "flash" filter does a great job of adding (fake) light to a picture that you took in a dark room. Other filters can really make your pictures pop or make them much more artistic. The filters were created by photographer Lisa Bettany. All of this in an app that costs only $2.
But I'm not reviewing this app today because of any of the great features noted above. Instead, I love that this app has finally enabled the feature of using the volume buttons on your iPhone to take a picture. I find that whenever I press the onscreen virtual button to take a picture, I always move my iPhone slightly, which sometimes makes the picture somewhat blurry. But by holding an iPhone firm in my hand and then just pressing one of the volume buttons on the side, I find it much easier to take pictures, plus the iPhone shakes less so the pictures are more sharp.
But the thing is, this feature is hidden in this app. The developers at TapTapTap have wanted to add this feature for a long time. The last update to this app submitted to Apple actually contained NOTHING new except for this one feature just to force Apple to focus on whether to allow it. But unfortunately, as the developer explains on the TapTapTap blog, Apple rejected the version of the app with this feature on the grounds that it might cause user confusion. I strongly disagree, and if you do too, the post includes information on how you can let Apple know that it should change its mind.
If Apple rejected the version of this app with the feature, why am I talking about it? Well, apparently a little birdie told Dan of the UneasySilence blog that anyone with the Camera+ app can enable the volume button as a shutter feature just by going into the Safari app on the iPhone and typing as the URL: camplus://enablevolumesnap — which will cause the Camera+ app to open with the secret feature added. If you ever want to disable the feature, just go back to Safari and type camplus://disablevolumesnap.
Is Apple going to let the developers get away with this backdoor? I hope so. If Apple's only concern is user confusion, this solves that problem. Nobody is going to type in that command in the Safari browser unless they know exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it. No confusion at all. Everybody's happy. Right?
I'm not sure whether Apple will let this one continue to work, but for now at least, an app that I already use all the time whenever I take pictures has now become much more useful because of this little hack. I hope it lasts, and frankly I hope that Apple changes its mind and lets TapTapTap add this as a non-hidden feature.
[UPDATE 8/12/10: It looks like Apple removed Camera+ from the App Store. Oh well.]Click here for Camera+ ($1.99):