Firmware Friday: Nokia talks you into taking more selfies


posted Friday, April 11, 2014 at 2:23 PM EDT


After a brief hiatus last week because we'd already covered the sole firmware news -- Olympus' shutter-slap fix for the E-M1 -- Firmware Friday returns this week, but with a twist. Technically, neither of the updates this week are for dedicated cameras, but we found them interesting nonetheless. Let's take a look at what's new for Nokia Asha cameraphones and Canon's VIXIA Mini camcorder.

Starting with Nokia, the new Asha smartphone firmware makes for a smarter, more selfie-focused design. (And let's face it, selfies are a big deal for cameraphones.) What Nokia has done is to improve the experience of framing your selfie to prevent your having to try a dozen times before you aimed the camera the right way. Using face detection, an Asha phone on the new firmware will guide you by voice until you're holding the phone in the right place for a straight-on selfie, with your face roughly in the center of the frame. You then get a verbal cue, and the shot is taken. No more pictures over your shoulder, or with your face cut in half! We're just surprised nobody thought of it sooner.

Nokia's Asha firmware update adds panorama shooting and a selfie-assist mode.

As well as the updated self-portrait capture shown in the video above, Nokia has also added panorama shooting to the Asha phones. The interface is reminiscent of that used by Google for its Photo Sphere function in Android smartphones, but on a single axis. After each shot, a circle appears in the right place for the next frame of the panorama to be captured. Center this within a target at the middle of the screen, and the photo is captured. The update is provided over the air for Nokia Asha 230, Asha 230 Dual SIM, Asha 500, Asha 500 Dual SIM, Asha 501, Asha 501 Dual SIM, Asha 502 Dual SIM, Asha 503 and Asha 503 Dual SIM phones, and information on how to check if the update is available for your phone yet can be found here.

Canon's VIXIA Mini camcorder firmware, meanwhile, allows remote live view and control of the camcorder from a smartphone app for iOS and Android devices. It also reduces startup time, tweaks playback mode with new features (some of which are intended to prevent accidental operation), and makes access to macro mode quicker.

The Canon VIXIA Mini camcorder now supports remote live view and control, including zoom, focus and self-timer operation.

In full, here's the list of changes in VIXIA Mini firmware version, according to Canon:

  • Remote viewing function has been added when using the CameraAccess plus smartphone app, with the optional CT-V1 Camera Pan Table.
    * Note: The CameraAccess plus app is available free of charge from the Apple App Store and Google Play. Information on how to use the remote viewing function is available from the PIXELA Web site.

  • Shortens the time between turning the camcorder on and being able to start recording.

  • In order to prevent inadvertently switching to playback mode while recording, the following improvements have been made:

    • The playback button must be pressed for half a second or more in order to access the playback mode.

    • The playback button has now been disabled while the camcorder is in recording mode, in order to prevent inadvertently switching modes.

  • Quick access to the photo playback index screen, by holding down the playback button, has been added.

  • Photo playback has been added to SP-V1 mode.

  • In the Shooting Mode menu, the “Macro” option is now listed above “Auto” for improved ease of use.

You can download the Canon VIXIA Mini firmware v1.0.1.0 update from Canon's website.