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Alltel networks the phone camera

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Ontela-powered service instantly ships photos taken on the phone over the wireless network to PC and photo-sharing sites

Alltel this week launched a picture service that automatically transfers photographs snapped with the phone’s camera from the black hole that is the phones onboard memory to a customer’s PC or online photo websites.

Called PhotoCopter, the solution uses Ontela technology to create a bridge between the phone and the network using a wireless application protocol session (WAP) session over Alltel’s CDMA 1X and EV-DO networks to upload a photo as soon as it is taken. The Ontela server then distributes the photo to selected photo-sharing or storage sites -- such as Photobucket, Snapfish, Flickr or Blogger -- sends the photo via e-mail to predetermined address and directly to a PC’s My Photos folder using Ontela synchronization software.

While cameras are almost ubiquitous features on cellphones today, the photos shot with them rarely make it off the devices. The primary means for moving photos off the phone have been direct connections to a PC or MMS, which embeds a low-resolution version of the photo into a multimedia message. According to Ontela, neither option has been very compelling. “This is the end of the ‘photo graveyard,’ where people take pictures and leave them on the phone until they’re deleted,” Ontela CEO Dan Shapiro said in a statement.

While numerous applications for feature and smartphones use wireless connections to upload photos to websites or distribution servers, almost all of them are require some kind of prompt from the user. Alltel’s PhotoCopter is not only one of the first to be offered by an operator but one of the first to upload photos automatically in the background. Alltel is charging $3 a month for service, but that doesn’t include data charges. Trigger-happy photographers could easily run up heavy data bills without realizing it. Alltel, therefore, said it is recommending to all customers of the service to sign up for its All Axcess unlimited data plan at $20 a month.

The service requires a BREW application on the handset, which Ontela has so far configured for most of Alltel’s current line of Motorola phones. The company said it planned to have the application available on more devices shortly, though.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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