Software Release!

The application I've been writing was approved by Apple right before Thanksgiving and is available in the App Store right now. I haven't really talked about this much with anyone but I was contacted back at the beginning of the summer by some folks who wanted to do an application. It's called HawkeyeSpecs and you can see it in the App Store if you are set up for those sorts of links. The idea is one of those "I can't understand why this hasn't been done before." utilities. (Well I have some idea why now, but that's a digression :-)) The rough idea is this: take a picture of something small (we focused largely on text) using the built-in camera. After you have the image provide a magnifying glass as well as a suite of simple digital enhancement tools.

There are a whole set of recent applications that provide some sort of "digital eyeglasses" but they all do the same thing: a digital zoom on the live video feed from the camera. This works OK on the 3GS but on the 2G and 3G iPhones it's really a poor choice. The camera on those phones is fixed-focus, meaning you have to hold the phone a very specific amount away from the target to get an in-focus image. This isn't that difficult to do, but trying to do that while reading the screen is very tricky. Imagine trying to read a menu in a dimly-lit restaurant: you need to hold up the menu, hold the phone about a foot away from the menu, and then read from the screen. With Hawkeye you still have to hold the phone about a foot from the menu but you only hold it there for a moment, snap a picture and then you can put the menu down hold the phone where you can best see it and scroll around the image to your heart's content. You can also adjust the obvious parameters - brightness, saturation, contrast, as well as apply a sharpen filter.

I was actually surprised to realize how good the camera in the 2G phone was for this sort of thing when you don't limit it in weird ways. It's actually pretty easy to get a shot of an entire sheet of paper and if you keep the whole 1600 x 1200 image there's plenty of detail to read fine text.

So yeah. If you have an iPhone and a pair of reading glasses you might find Hawkeye a useful program to pick up. Plus you'd be supporting little old me! :-)