Sneak Peek: Nokia’s Amber Camera update for Windows Phone 8 Lumias

It was announced today that Nokia will be bringing “Amber”, a software update package that will coincide with Microsoft’s GDR2 update later this summer. We got a quick look at some of the new camera functions, which will launch on the Lumia 925 and then come to all Windows Phone 8 Lumias via an over-the-air update.

So what can we expect? FM Radio, up to 3200 ISO support, less noise, enhanced color profile, image quality improvements and more. One of those new features is of course the Smart Camera app that you see demoed here in our video. Indeed, we’re quite excited for this feature to come.

What do you think of these changes? Expected release is later this summer (we’re thinking July) though we’re not sure if we can wait that long. You?

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • This is great news, looking forward to updating my Lumia 920.
  • Already got some kind of update on Lumia 920 AT&T. It says, NOKIA update. It is installing right now. Will let you know.
    Update: Phone successfully restarting (migrating data screen). It was on the Spinning gears for about 5 minutes.
    Update2: I guess I was behind. This brings me to 1314. Firmware 1232.5962.1314.0001
  • It's GDR2, should be a Windows Phone Update, not Nokia Update.
  • No it's not gdr2. GDR2 Will be an OS update that also will bring Amber Firmware update. OS and firmware is not the same. Firmware = manufacturers, OS = Microsoft
  • Oh, I realized. Yes, they say Amber update will be brought along with GDR2. Indeed, both are different. GDR2 will be by Microsoft and Amber by Nokia. I wish they would release it in this month already. :D
  • Makes me wonder where is the Beta program that was mentioned? Would live to be a part of that :)
  • Yeah Nokia!!!!! You rock!!!!
  • Is this update supposed to include the double tap to wake option and that lock screen clock too?
  • ^ Same question.
  • Yes.
  • I hope that it is also available for the 720
  • I am more excited about Smart Cam than I am about the 925
  • Well, what use is ISO 3200? That sensitivity is way too much for a tiny phone sensor. Heck, most MFT cameras with their much larger sensors don't look to nice at that setting...
  • that's why they say "less noise". Maybe the algoritms have a little magic to show at that ISO settings
  • Honestly i was quit disappointed that no instagram was announced nor the highly demanded whatsapp update..
  • I do kind of love that people expect Nokia to make all of this happen these days. Kind of sad actually.
    It's not like you expect Samsung to do anything on the apps or the ecosystem in Android, other than manufacture phones and sell them. 
  • Nokia are helping to develop the new version of Whatsapp and the company announced a brand new version would be out soon so it's not a huge leap to have expected the announcement today.
  • ^this They have already done a LOT for the WP ecosystem but people always feel entitled for more, that's the culture now: What have you done for me lately?
  • The name's Janet, Miss Jackson if you're nasty....
  • +100. People seen so dissapointed when there beloved instagram is not annouced, what about the new camera software? does instagram have a filter to do that?.
  • It isn't about the camera features with instagram, its about the social aspect. People feel left out.
  • Well, we did get the Hipstamatic app Oggl which will allow uploads to Intsagram.  Not sure when it is being released though.
  • Since when was this a What's App event?? It's Nokia. The What's App is down to What's App team not Nokia(rolls eyes)
  • Lol yep for the price we pay for these phones I think Nokia is doing a damn good job
  • Except Nokia said they were working with What's App on a new release. And Nokia have been instrumental in bringing new apps to the market. Witness the Oggl app that was announced today.
    I'm not complaining, What's App works fine for me and I wasn't expecting anything, but I think it's fair these days to expect Nokia to announce new apps as much as anything else. WP & Nokia are coming from behind, so they need to shout about new apps as much as the developers of those apps. It's not like when Apple announced iOS 4/5 they didn't crow about the new Time or whatever app that came out at the same time.
  • They will probably announce Instagram (if there is an app coming) at the event on Thursday along with the Nokia Lumia 928 release.
  • 7.8?
  • This question pops up for every freaking topic -_-
  • Nokia has confirmed that the Smart Cam app will not appear on 7.x. However they say that the platform will still be supported and updated. ;)
  • Still waiting for 1314 unlocked in Australia...
  • Same here in Saudi Arabia.
  • 1314 was for AT&T only. 1308 should be available for KSA. I got it on my UAE Nokia Lumia 920 about a month back.
  • 1314 is coming to Australia as well. A carrier here said 1308 was ready for deployment but Nokia pulled it. 
  • But it doesn't improved any thing. People were saying that after 1314 update the battery life was improved.
  • Has there been 1314 anywhere but on AT&T devices? The issue that was fixed seems to have been specific to AT&Ts LTE network. Rest of the world will likely stay on 1308 until Amber hits.
  • Well we don't have 1308 in Aus unlocked either. Sorry should have been clearer. My gf has an import 820 Middle East version and she got it! Arg! 5gig of other and counting!
  • Updates are only on 920 on AT&T, but not the 820.
  • I've witnessed first hand that her 820 has 100% more Storage Check than my 920. There was clearly an update for both.
  • lantern was talking about on AT&T.  You said your sister has an "import 820 Middle East version".
    My brother has the 820 on AT&T and no Storage Check is available for him either.
  • I have it on my Rogers 920
    1314 is coming to Australia as well. A carrier here said 1308 was ready for deployment but Nokia pulled it. 
  • 1314 should be coming to Telstra users VERY soon (hopefully this week). Unbranded users will probably have to wait longer. Maybe up to an extra month.
  • That's great news nikhilr, will keep an eye for it. Can't wait to clear some if the 'other' space as well.
  • 1314 will be released the same time for locked/unlocked devices. Portico was released at the same time - it is a carrier thing. My unlocked Lumia gets the updates the same time as the devices we've purchased for the company I work for. Should be within a week by all accounts (Telstra AU).
  • Portico was released about 1-2 weeks earlier on Telstra devices than unbranded devices. 
    I've got a telstra device, my mate has a harvey norman device. He had to wait a week or 2 longer to get portico.
  • Still waiting for 1308/1314 on the 810 as well. 4.4 GB other on 8 GB phone. That's fun.
  • Better battery life?
  • Thats the important thing they must look into!
  • 2nd that!  I have times that a full charge on my 920 last almost three days and others 8 hours.  The only time yesterday I even touched my 920 was to install the new Facebook beta and I went from 98% to less than 10% in several hours. In fact I usually see high battery drain after installing an update of any kind,  The FB update yesterday was the worse drain I've ever seen.
  • FB beta update fixed battery problem for my 8X. First release killed my battery.
  • Can you do a favor for me? The next time you experience a sudden drop in battery charge, please note the exact battery level,and do a phone switch off + switch-on procedure. When the phone is up and running again, check the battery level again! Did It INCREASE compared to what you have seen before the shutdown? If yes, you are facing the same battery charge value mis-information that i am facing every week. The battery in fact is not loosing charge faster than usual, however for some reason it misreports the current charge level. Its NOT cosmetical issue, as the OS actually believes its reading the correct charge level, and reacts to the false low charge level, and shuts itself down. I suspect some firmware or OS bug, would love to hear others can check via this procedure so im not the only one affected.
  • Smart camera is awesome.
  • Seems like a better version of Smartshoot
  • FM radio...Cant wait for this feature to come finally. It's baseball season and the only way for me to listen to game is pay MLB $40 a year to stream live games. FM radio they are free from my local sports radio station.
    We have to wait till late summer(we all know it never comes out early) ? Really ?
    I have a HTC Trophy still sitting here and when i am doing projects in the yard I just use that phone for the FM radio with no service activated (because I am not going to change my ESN to cut the lawn)
  • I agree with you on the FM Radio feature.  I am looking forward to this one myself for the same reason.
    Now even WP fanboys can't argue that you don't need better CPU and GPU. This app needs more power.
  • In the Engadget hands-on video, the 925 took such a long time to process the image taken in the SmartCam app.
  • Post processing a photo takes whatever time it takes. It ain't applying Instagram filters ffs!
  • And it takes less time on better hardware. Stop being so deffensive, it does not improve the platform.
  • Or better optimizations...
  • Nice app, but i hope they also enhance the camera firmware and software for better images to begin with.
  • In the article : So what can we expect? FM Radio, up to 3200 ISO support, less noise, enhanced color profile, image quality improvements and more.
  • I just hope we get to back up our game saves, that's all I'm asking
  • +1
    This is huge for me
  • With only 16gb of storage on the 925 that is a must.
  • I don't know but does the lumia 925 have puremotion hd+ (60fps) like the 920 and 928? Please answer. Thanks.
  • It does. We asked.
  • Yes, it does. GSMArena specs also says it has Lumia Color Profiles.
  • The Verge says FM radio will be avaialble to all devices except for Nokia 620. Is it true?
  • Sadly,true because the 620 does not have a radio chip.
  • Several websites claim that. Even GSMArena. So I think it is true.
    But I wish it to be false.
  • If only wishes were horses,beggars would ride! ;-)
  • Good one!
  • So Nokia included an FM tuner in the hope that it would someday be supported?
  • YES! this is what i was waiting for! Hopefully this comes out sooner than later.
  • Wait I will have FM radio on my 920?? Or will I need an adapter?
  • If it's like any other FM radio for phones, you will need to have headphones connected for the signal. FM radio will not work with out headphones attached.
  • I guess technically you needed an 'adapter' with WP7 too... the adapter were the headphones... FM radio didn't work without them... I assume it'll be the same with the Nokia Lumia line...
  • This should have been released today
  • +1
  • That's pretty sweet. I look forward to the update.
  • I can wait till hell freezes over & hots up again.
  • When the time shift feature of the new BlackBerry z10 first was debuted I thought it was one of the best camera features ever for a phone....i can honestly say that the new Smart Cam app for lumias will be hands down, the best camera app this year! I'm scared to even find out what they'll think of next for an awesome camera experience!
  • Nokia acquiring Scalado, coupled with Nokia's imaging tech, definitely puts Nokia far and away above other oems with regards to camera tech on a smartphone.
  • Where's the announcement about live traffic updates on Nokia Here Drive Beta? That's what I was waiting for! 
  • I'm prety sure it will happen this month.
  • I guess the radio will need a headset attached or will it be wireless?
  • Headset attached. It uses the cable as the FM antenna.
  • It will require the headset as an antenna. Only the FM chip is present inside.
  • With all the radio apps like iHeart, I can't see the utility of having FM. But, that's just me.
  • With Data limits that most people have these days and the fact that Sporting events are blocked from streaming due the MLB/NFL etc having packages you buy to stream games, FM is huge for some people like myself (MLB wants $40 per year to stream live games but, it's free on the radio).
    A perk to have ! Plus it's better on battery life than streaming music over the net.
  • Try harder and it might come to you. Hint: read some other people's comments.
  • Sidenote: iHeartRadio was pulled from WP8 marketplace in January. Nobody knows when it's coming back. That being said, apps don't fully replace FM radio... There are still stations out there that aren't on any app, FM can be picked up without using data unlike an app, don't have to worry about reception issues, etc
  • iHeart said they will release the app in the summer.
  • In India, FM Radio is still the best source of entertainment than Internet Radio. The 3G plans are still quite expensive here and hence having an FM Radio is really necessary. Even the basic phones like Nokia 101 have FM Radio. I am so waiting for this update for my 920.
  • "The 3G plans are still quite expensive here"
    Mate, i've been to india. Your 3g plans are dirt cheap!
    Try coming to australia! 1gb costs me $65 a month (3500 INR)! 
  • I agree, I pay INR 450 (~$9) for 2Gb per month.
  • woah..never realised!! :O
  • FM Radio is great for local channels, and especially for talk radio; and one of the reasons I purchased the Lumia 900 in November instead of the Lumia 920.  I don't listen to music on my local channels, but I will tune into a few local talk radio stations :)
  • Great
  • I need those update now
  • So wait they're saying gdr2 is coming this summer and not getting released with the 928 wtf? and the updates in the video are minor upgrades bring a notification center, or something to the os the camera is the least of the worries....i dont understand why they arent focused on the os more than the camera unbelievable
  • It's Nokia not Microsoft, amber is a Nokia firmware update so it can't change the OS.
    Nokia a focussing on imagine tech at the moment hence a lot of the features being about cameras; it's how they're trying to define themselves
  • No gdr2 update is something different. Nokia is pushing out a update called Amber around the same time. But MS controls the notification center and other UI enhancements. But I agree that these features should have come to the 928 as well. But u knw Verizon is slow.
  • Don't expect this to be coming to WP7.8.
  • Awesome feature!
  • Nokia rules! "more is better than less and we want more, more, and more"! Great job now rush the update and tease us with the EOS!
  • The video mentioned Q3. That means from July to September, right.
  • Please come soon for my 822.... Must have FM radio for baseball games!!!
  • How about manual control on the shutter speed?
  • Giggity.
  • Wow this is impressive.
  • Goodness sakes bring it already!!!! Will never ever trust any other OEM besides Nokia! Should've gotten wife and daughter the L920 instead of the 8gig 8x. L920 was cheaper too at the time. Two for one deal! God I feel stupid!
  • They need fix the Auto White Balance off (picture colour is inaccurate sometimes).
  • At least they tried and now we get hipstamatic which lets you upload to instagram and make an account!
  • Why only 16GB on T-Mobile?  And no microSD card to make up for that?  I'm running out of storage as it is.  I need at least 32GB, preferably 64GB.
  • just got a pretty nifty update to Creative Studio through to my 920 (voduk), gives some "amber" like photo affects. im impressed and cant wait for the release... who needs a 925 :)
  • At ease people, all you nokia bashers. i can't believe all the negative comments this morning regardingmthe 925 ......i want this i want a nokia investor i am so happy that all the major carriers have a version of the 900. yes 900, thats what i have with 7.8 software. now wait 'till fall for a major release, dont speculate before then or listen to rumors.
  • Make it available for lumia 810 plsssssssssssssssssssss......
  • I bet Nokia is testing the amber update every Lumia individually rather than the flagship 920 and 928
  • Why a 41 mgpx camera so fast? Lets wait a year or so until the 920s life is over.
  • Now I really want a Nokia 925!!!
  • This makes Galaxy 4's camera features look like garbage.  However, blackberry's version is still pretty good
  • I would be delighted if they could make the 3g radio more efficient. My Lumia 920 doesnt last 6 hours on 3g. Its just cruel.!! :'(
  • Sounds excellent I hope they add burst mode.
  • Ha! Excuse or Reason to buy that Galaxy! WindowsAllDay!
  • I think with it's broken lines, mixed with panels, and bent curved metal look camera hole - the 925 looks cheapened, and not premium. Not the standard we have come to expect from Nokia. Gone are the clean lines of the 800,900,620,720,820,920 shells, even the 928, while more square, maintains the same design ethos. The specs of course are good, but disappointingly; this isn't the killer announcement it was being built up to be, especially because much of the presentation to launch this iteration of the 920s series, was used to talk about Nokia apps and not Nokia hardware - which does not require a launch event. I am praying that the rumoured forthcoming 'EOS' is not a similarly confused effort. Nokia take note! Ignore the sycophants and listen to your customers who expect only the very best in innovative design language and hardware specs.
  • Wow. Can't wait for camera improvements for my Lumia 920! Photos that I make with it is stunning... And they will be even better? Ca-a-an't wait! :D
  • Still no support for Xbox music & live scout for India.
  • Every little improvements is a step forward to a better device, cant say phone anymore as it does so much more!!