Jul 022008

The PicLens guys and gals have rolled out a new 1.7 release with quite a few new navigational aides and features.  I’m a little late to the party with this post, as 1.7 went public a few weeks ago while I was distracted with bootstrapping the new job at Microsoft.

The three headliners for this 1.7 release are a new “discovery” mode for finding cool content you didn’t know about, an Amazon search feature, where you can search and browse photos of Amazon products, and a “return to PicLens” button that takes you from the browser back to what you were last looking at in PicLens.

Discovery mode is a feed aggregator – it pulls together content from all over the web into categories like news, sports, entertainment, and so forth. For those of you who love PicLens but were having trouble finding stuff to look at, Discovery is for you. ;>

The Amazon search & browse is pretty much what it sounds like.  You can enter a search term and see results returned from the Amazon store.  Click on an item and you go directly to the Amazon product page where you can purchase it or see reviewer’s comments, etc.  (I wonder who gets the affiliate fee for sending you to Amazon?  Hmmm…)

 Return to Piclens is my baby – the last Piclens feature I worked on at Cooliris.  When you click on the attribution link of an item in PicLens (the little blue globe in the caption bar of the selected item), PicLens opens the original web page containing that item in the web browser, and PicLens closes its full-screen display. 

When your curiousity about that item has been sated, how do you go back to what you were looking at in PicLens?  Prior to the 1.7 release, you had to fire up a new PicLens session, reconstruct the search query you used last, and then scroll back to where you were before you hopped out to the browser.

Now in Piclens 1.7, when you click on an attribution link to view a page in the browser, PicLens displays a translucent “Return to Piclens” button in the bottom right corner of the screen.  When you’re ready to go back to PicLens, just click that button and the PicLens full screen display returns, showing exactly where you left off.  You can even navigate around in the browser (click on links, view different pages) before returning to PicLens.

I think Return to Piclens is only implemented in the Windows versions of the PicLens plugins (IE and Firefox) – for the moment.  The Mac guys were busy with another project while I was working on this, but they’ll get this return button implemented on the Mac side of the house soon I’m sure. 

There’s also a navigation helper in PicLens itself that appears at the top of the display when you start a new PicLens session instead of using the Return to Piclens button.  This is another handy way to go back to the site or search query you were last looking at in PicLens.

Congrats to the PicLens team!  Can’t wait to see the next round of stuff.  :>