Snapchat-esque Photo Drawing Coming to Windows 10

Styluses at the ready. The latest Windows "Redstone 2" build allows users to doodle on photos and fine-tune their stylus-based inking experiences on the fly.

Windows 10

Microsoft is busily piecing together its upcoming "Redstone 2" update for Windows 10, which is expected sometime in the spring of 2017. (Redstone 1 was the code name of this summer's Anniversary Update.)

Windows Insiders, members of the company's early-access program, can take some of its features and enhanced capabilities for a spin now. New this time around is a feature that should be familiar to Snapchat enthusiasts.

Windows 10 build 14951 for PC and Mobile extends the company's Windows Ink technology to the Photos app, effectively allowing users to spruce up their snapshots with notes, doodles and other hand-drawn artwork. "To start inking, pick one of your favorite photos, and then tap the Draw option," instructed Windows Insider Program lead Dona Sarkar in a blog post. "You'll now enter the familiar Windows Ink toolbar experience, where you can select a pen, pencil, and one new addition: a calligraphy pen."

Hitting the Save button causes the virtual ink to "dry" into a still image. Users can also opt to save their creations as a video that replays the pen strokes used to come up with the finished product. Other updates to the Photos app include an updated image-cropping interface and a several new filters.

The Camera app's timer is easier to access courtesy of a new toggle control, and users can more readily access its settings in the main interface. An updated animation does a better job of letting users know they captured the shot, said Sarkar. On PCs, the spacebar now doubles as the shutter button.

Windows Ink gains a new Stencils feature, allowing users to easily add pixel-perfect shapes to their on-screen drawings. For example, the protractor tool now serves as both a protractor and a compass, allowing users to "draw an arc or a complete circle of an arbitrary size with little effort," said Sarkar. "A familiar two-finger pinch gesture resizes the protractor to the desired size and a degree readout follows your pen, mouse, or finger as you draw along the side of the protractor displaying arc degrees."

Also new are Windows Ink Workspace dropdowns that offer color and pen tip width options without requiring extra steps.

In addition, build 14951 includes Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) upgrades, including support for Ubuntu 16.04 (Xenial), replacing Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty). The operating system is also capable of launching Windows binaries from a WSL command prompt. More information is available in this MSDN post.

The company is also refining the Windows 10 touchpad experience on PCs. New audio control options have been added to the operating system's swipe gestures feature. Additionally, Microsoft is making it easier to trigger keyboard combinations using touchpad gestures. By integrating the operating system's keyboard shortcut picker, the Advanced Gestures page will present a recorder that enables allows users to capture their desired key sequences.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...