HTC announced the One smartphone this week, its new flagship device for the year. The One is a sequel to last year's well-liked smartphone and ratchets up the sex appeal with an all-aluminum design. Its feature set, which includes a luscious 5-inch HD display, zippy four-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and shiny metallic colors, will let it compete well against similar phones from other manufacturers. HTC believes developers can plan a role in the One's success, too, with new APIs for the camera and BlinkFeed.
One of the key features of the One is its Duo-Camera. The One actually has three cameras, but there are two cameras on the back that work together. HTC calls this setup a Duo-Camera. The main imager is a 4-megapixel shooter with pixels that are 300% bigger than "normal" pixels. HTC insists that these ultrapixels let in more light and result in better images. The second camera rates 2-megapixels, but it doesn't actually record image data with the camera fires. Instead, it is assisting with focus and collecting point-of-view data. This is critical.
HTC gave the One some really neat photo-editing features - two of which rely on this secondary data collected by the One's second camera. For example, one gallery tool can be used to add a 3D effect to images. When the images are tiled side-to-side, you can see around objects in the image. It's a cool trick. The point-of-view data also helps with a tool called UFocus, which is adept at helping change the depth-of-field in any given image. (Sort of like a Lytro camera.)
One of the new APIs being released by HTC pertains to the Duo-Camera. Developers can use the API to build apps that take advantage of the One's two-camera configuration. Think how much more fun Instagram would be if it could let people post 3D images of their cat, or lunch, or drunken selves at a party? A bevy of existing apps could benefit from the new APIs, but it's more likely independent developers will be the ones to flex their creative muscles here.
The second API from HTC pertains to BlinkFeed. BlinkFeed is HTC's social news reader that is built into its Sense 6.0 User Interface. BlinkFeed can be set to pull content from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as innumerable news sources. It wraps all the content up in an easy-to-digest digital magazine that One owners can snack on throughout the day. HTC is releasing an API for BlinkFeed because it hopes to improve the content offering to owners of the One. The APIs will allow developers to hook directly into BlinkFeed so One owners can more easily add that content to their Feed.
These new APIs are a welcome offering from HTC, though it raises the question of just how much developer support a single phone can muster. Granted, Apple has tons of developer support even though it only makes one phone, but it has scale that HTC currently does not.