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Search results for "Halide"

Halide Developer Ben Sandofsky Breaks Down How the iPhone XR Captures Depth Data

Ben Sandofsky from the team that makes the Halide iOS camera app has a detailed post on the iPhone XR’s camera and how Apple creates Portrait Mode photos with a single lens. Sandofsky walks through how Apple uses Focus Pixels to develop a rough Disparity Map and combines that with a Portrait Effects Matte to create Portrait Mode images.

The results have some advantages, but also distinct disadvantages compared to the iPhone XS’s camera. As Sandofsky explains:

It seems the iPhone XR has two advantages over the iPhone XS: it can capture wider angle depth photos, and because the wide-angle lens collects more light, the photos will come out better in low light and have less noise.

However:

…most of the time, the XS will probably produce a better result. The higher fidelity depth map, combined with a focal length that’s better suited for portraiture means people will just look better, even if the image is sometimes a bit darker. And it can apply Portrait effects on just about anything, not just people.

Although Apple’s Camera app can only take Portrait Mode photos of people on the iPhone XR, the upcoming Halide 1.11 update will combine the XR’s Disparity Map and Halide’s own blur effect to apply a similar effect beyond human subjects. Sandofsky admits that the feature isn’t perfect due to the low quality of the Disparity Map created by the XR, but the photos included in his post show that it can take excellent pictures under some conditions.

It’s remarkable what is being done to squeeze depth information out of the XR’s single lens and instructive to understand how the underlying technology works. It’s also apparent that Apple has made significant advancements since the introduction of the first dual-lens cameras.

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Halide Introduces Smart RAW for iPhone XS, Joining a Host of Other Improvements

Since its debut Halide has been one of the best manual camera apps available on iPhone. The month of September brought a number of challenges to Halide’s team though, thanks to all the photography work Apple put into iOS 12 and the iPhone XS. And in response, within the span of a few weeks Halide has receive two major updates: version 1.9 on iOS 12’s release date, and releasing today is version 1.10 featuring Smart RAW.

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Halide 1.8

Lovely update to Halide, my favorite third-party iPhone camera app, released today on the App Store. Among other improvements (such as an Apple Watch app and self-timer), I’m a fan of the new grid-based photo reviewer (try swiping down slowly on the grid to dismiss the view) as well as the advanced setting to prevent attaching location metadata when sharing a photo to social networks. I wish more apps offered an explicit preference like Halide does.

The focus on Accessibility in this release is also commendable:

We care deeply about Accessibility and have improved Halide with every update to make it easier to use for all users, but this update is our biggest push yet. With support for Dynamic and Bold Type throughout, VoiceOver support and many more enhancements. Even our 30 second timer option was included with Accessibility in mind, offering users with limited mobility more freedom to take photos.

That being said, we’re not done: this year we’ve worked with noted accessibility specialist Sommer Panage. She advised us on this release, and and helped set goals for accessibility in the year ahead.

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Halide 1.7 Brings New Depth Photography and ARKit Features, Darkroom Integration

We first reviewed Halide, the powerful third-party camera app by Ben Sandofsky and Sebastiaan de With, when it debuted in the summer of 2017, providing a powerful and elegant alternative to Apple’s Camera app that fully embraced RAW photography and advanced controls in an intuitive interface. We later showcased Halide’s iPhone X update as one of the most thoughtful approaches to adapting for the device’s Super Retina Display; to this day, Halide is a shining example of how the iPhone X’s novel form factor can aid, instead of hindering, complex app UIs.

While Halide was already regarded as an appealing alternative to Apple’s stock app for professional photographers and RAW-curious iPhone users (something that designer de With covered in depth in his excellent guide), it was lacking a handful of key features of the modern iPhone photography experience. Sandofsky and de With want to eliminate some of these important gaps with today’s 1.7 update, which focuses on bringing the power of Portrait mode to Halide, supporting the iPhone X’s TrueDepth camera system, and extending the app’s integrations via a special ARKit mode, new export options, and native integration with the popular Darkroom photo editing tool.

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Halide Review: Instantly Better Photography

Photography isn’t my specialty, and more often than not, my lack of knowledge stops me from getting the shot I have set up in my mind. They say the best camera is the one you have with you at all times, but the stock iPhone 7 camera can only do so much with my limited skill set.

So when a tool comes along that makes taking great photos so much easier, it’s hard to pass it up. That’s Halide, which offers real-time, user-driven changes in your camera’s viewfinder to help you get the picture you want.

As you line up your shot in Halide, you’ll have the opportunity to make adjustments – focus, ISO, white balance, and exposure – that will change the way your picture will look. These aren’t pre-packaged filters, but rather manual options that can give your photo a unique look and feel. For different occasions, environments, and lighting, you’ll appreciate the control.

What I love so much about Halide is that I don’t have to have the deepest understanding of these tools to take advantage of them. Instead of focusing on numbers, I can see my changes as they are made. Halide offers the benefits of a complex photo app without the learning curve.

Much of how you edit in Halide is by sliding your finger, either arbitrarily up and down or along a scale, left to right. For white balance, you can select from presets, which drastically alter the mood of the photo without making it look unrealistic. Aside from focus, all of these options work on the front camera, too, so your selfies can be even more artistic.

Halide can capture your photos in either RAW or JPEG, but it’s up to you to select the latter in the “Quick Bar”, an extra set of buttons that appears by pulling down at the top of the screen. Also in the Quick Bar is an on/off switch for flash, a grid tool, and location management.

Conclusion

When I’m inexperienced in a certain field, I want apps to enable and teach me, not leave me confused and incapable. Halide undoubtedly accomplishes the former, putting the control back in my hands instead of in the camera.

And that’s what I can’t seem to shake about Halide – it’s empowering, a $4.99 investment into better photos without much work. For quick, simple shots, I’m probably still going to choose Camera for its convenience; for everything else, I’m choosing Halide.

If you’d like to give Halide a try, you can pick it up in the App Store for $4.99 (iPhone only).


Spectre: A Computational Approach to Long-Exposure iPhone Photography

Spectre is a new specialized camera app from the team that created Halide, one of our favorite camera apps on iOS. The Halide team describes Spectre as a computational shutter for the iPhone, which allows the app to do things like remove people from a crowded scene, create artistic images of rushing water, and produce light trails at night. The same sort of images can be created using traditional cameras, but getting the exposure right, holding the camera absolutely still, and accounting for other factors make them difficult to get right. With Spectre, artificial intelligence is used to simplify the process and make long-exposure photography accessible to anyone with an iPhone.

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My Must-Have iOS Apps, 2018 Edition

Putting together my annual list of Must-Have iOS Apps is an exercise in analyzing the trends of the year and considering which ones had the biggest impact on how I use my iPhone and iPad. Two years ago, it was web services and open APIs; last year, I focused on collaboration with the MacStories team and making my workflow consistent across devices; this year, there isn’t a single overarching theme behind this list, but rather a collection of trends and changes that I’ve observed over the course of 2018.

First and foremost is the switch to a subscription-based business model by some of my favorite apps. As we noted in our look at the modern economics of the App Store earlier this year, it is becoming increasingly challenging for indie developers – the ones who make the apps we tend to use and cover most frequently on MacStories – to find a balance between reaching new customers with paid app updates and supporting an app over the span of multiple years for existing users who already paid once.

A subscription seems like an obvious solution: new customers can try an app for free and later decide to subscribe; longtime users of an app get to support their favorite app over a longer period of time; developers are more incentivized to keep making an app better thanks to the financial security provided by an ongoing revenue stream. Recurring subscriptions for all apps launched two years ago just before WWDC, and it feels like we’ve only now reached a point where more and more developers are willing to experiment with them. This major shift in app pricing wasn’t always met favorably by longtime users of existing apps, which has resulted in developers testing different approaches such as optional subscriptions, bundles containing subscriptions and In-App Purchases, or even multiple ways to unlock the same features. In looking at the apps included in this list, I was surprised by how many now include some form of recurring subscription; I think this transition will only become more prominent in 2019.

The second trend I noticed in my usage of third-party apps is a strong preference for those that fully embrace modern iOS technologies. From Siri shortcuts (by far, the most important iOS developer framework of 2018) to Files integration and support for external keyboards on iPad, I tend to prioritize apps that eschew proprietary functionalities and adopt native APIs such as iCloud, the Files document browser, or Reminders. With iOS growing more powerful and complex each year, I think it’s only natural that I’ve stuck with apps that shy away from Apple-provided solutions as little as possible; those frameworks are always going to be more integrated with the rest of the system than any alternative a developer can come up with, and I seek that level of integration because I enjoy the comfort of an ecosystem where all the pieces work well together.

Lastly, I’ve noticed some overall changes in the kinds of apps I consider my must-haves for iPhone and iPad. In the “pro” app department, the Photography and Development lists have grown to include apps such as Lightroom, Scriptable, Darkroom, and Halide – all new entries this year. One of my goals with the new iPad Pro is to use it as a workstation for editing photos and programming my own little additions to iOS; I felt like my increased usage of these apps warranted some changes in the annual picks. You will also find more apps designed to interact with macOS as a result of my purchase of a Mac mini (which I’m using as a home server for various tasks) and different utility apps as some of the old ones have been replaced by Shortcuts. An app that, by the way, I can no longer include in this roundup due to my self-imposed rule of not featuring Apple apps because they’re kind of obvious choices for an iOS user (this also applies to Shazam, officially acquired by Apple this year).

Below, you’ll find a collection of the 60 apps I consider my must-haves on the iPhone and iPad, organized in nine categories; whenever possible, I included links to original reviews and past coverage on MacStories. What you will not find is the usual list of awards for best new app and best app update, which we’ve relaunched as a team effort under the MacStories Selects name this year. Instead, at the end of the story you’ll find my App of the Year, which is also joining MacStories Selects as an award that recognizes an overall outstanding iOS app that had a profound impact on my workflow over the past year, regardless of its release date.

Let’s dig in.

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Darkroom 4.0: The MacStories Review

With version 4.0 released today, Darkroom has emerged as a photo editing force to be reckoned with on iOS. The highlight of the release is a brand-new iPad app, which is the version I’ll focus on in this review. I ran into a couple of bugs and would like to see Darkroom push its photo management and a few other tools even further in the future. However, the app’s combination of thoughtful design and platform-aware functionality together enable Darkroom to scale its full suite of tools gracefully from iPhone to iPad, which makes it an excellent choice for mobile photo editing.

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An In-Depth Explanation of Computational Photography on the iPhone XS

Outside of Apple employees, one of the people most knowledgeable about the iPhone’s camera is Sebastiaan de With, designer of the manual camera app Halide. It is fitting, then, that Sebastiaan would publish what I believe is the best explanation of the iPhone XS camera system to date. Following up on a piece he wrote about the new camera’s hardware changes, the subject of today’s article is software – specifically, all the work of computational photography on the iPhone XS and XS Max.

The piece starts with an explanation of the iPhone’s new Smart HDR feature, then details the exact reasons why selfies on the new iPhones appear to employ skin smoothing (a theory he soundly debunks). Finally, Sebastiaan details the problem that the XS camera poses for RAW camera apps like Halide, and shares about the forthcoming solution Halide’s team came up with: something they call Smart RAW.

There are too many excellent, informative tidbits to quote here, so I highly recommend you check out the article in full. This year’s iPhones are so full of interesting changes to the way the camera works, most of which are undocumented by Apple – as Sebastiaan says, it is “a whole new camera” in many ways.

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