This Week's Sponsor:


Ensure that if a device isn’t secure it can’t access your apps.  It’s Device Trust for Okta.

The Creativity Enabled by the iPhone 15 Pro’s New Cameras and Action Button

Every year, one of the most anticipated iPhone hardware announcements is changes to its camera. This year, the iPhone Pro Max’s new telephoto lens was the center of attention. However, there were other notable tweaks to the camera hardware and software across the iPhone lineup, too. Plus, we got a hardware bonus in the form of the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max’s Action button, which can perform some interesting tricks. Now, with the new iPhones in the hands of people around the world, we’re starting to see what that hardware can do in practice, and I’ve got three examples I’d like to share.

Source: Lux.

Source: Lux.

The first is an update to the camera app Halide that does something incredibly clever. Built into version 2.13 of the app is a shortcut that can be tied to the Action button to open Halide with a single press. That’s something you can do with any app using an Open App action, but Halide goes a step further by offering in-app functionality if you tie the button to its app. In the app’s settings, you can choose to tie the Action button to any of the following options:

  • Do nothing
  • Lenses
  • Exposure Mode
  • Focus Mode
  • RAW
  • Resolution
  • Capture

After using the Action button to open the app, pressing the button again will perform whichever action you picked in its settings. For example, if you chose Lenses, the first press of the Action button from outside the app will open Halide, and subsequent presses will cycle through each of the available camera lenses. I love this use of the Action button and hope other developers do the same, adding contextual actions to more apps.

A 5x telephoto shot by Sebastiaan de With.

A 5x telephoto shot by Sebastiaan de With.

Speaking of Halide, Sebastiaan de With, one of its creators, published a review of the iPhone 15 Pro Max camera today, concluding that:

With iPhone 15 Pro Max’s default 24 megapixel resolution, added ‘lenses’ under the main camera lens, automatic depth capture for portraits, and that 5× lens, this release might not blow away on a spec sheet, but is massive for everyone who uses an iPhone to take photos.

There’s a lot of ground to cover between the hardware and processing changes happening behind the scenes. Plus, de With is an excellent photographer whose shots do a fantastic job illustrating what is possible with the iPhone 15 Pro Max. So be sure to check out the full review.

Finally, the iPhone’s camera takes amazing video, too. This year saw the introduction of Log encoding for Pro Res 4K footage. That opens up a wider range of editing control using apps like Final Cut Pro, which Joey Helms used to create this amazing video of Chicago:

I’ve had my iPhone 15 Pro Max for just four days, and already, I’m enjoying taking photos as I walk around my neighborhood and playing with features like adding Portrait mode after the fact to images like the one below.

Before (left) and after (right) applying Portrait mode.

Before (left) and after (right) applying Portrait mode.

The result is a lot more creative freedom that’s more accessible than ever, not only because your iPhone is usually in your pocket but because the tools Apple has created for taking great photos and videos are so easy to use.

Unlock More with Club MacStories

Founded in 2015, Club MacStories has delivered exclusive content every week for over six years.

In that time, members have enjoyed nearly 400 weekly and monthly newsletters packed with more of your favorite MacStories writing as well as Club-only podcasts, eBooks, discounts on apps, icons, and services. Join today, and you’ll get everything new that we publish every week, plus access to our entire archive of back issues and downloadable perks.

The Club expanded in 2021 with Club MacStories+ and Club Premier. Club MacStories+ members enjoy even more exclusive stories, a vibrant Discord community, a rotating roster of app discounts, and more. And, with Club Premier, you get everything we offer at every Club level plus an extended, ad-free version of our podcast AppStories that is delivered early each week in high-bitrate audio.

Choose the Club plan that’s right for you:

  • Club MacStories: Weekly and monthly newsletters via email and the web that are brimming with app collections, tips, automation workflows, longform writing, a Club-only podcast, periodic giveaways, and more;
  • Club MacStories+: Everything that Club MacStories offers, plus exclusive content like Federico’s Automation Academy and John’s Macintosh Desktop Experience, a powerful web app for searching and exploring over 6 years of content and creating custom RSS feeds of Club content, an active Discord community, and a rotating collection of discounts, and more;
  • Club Premier: Everything in from our other plans and AppStories+, an extended version of our flagship podcast that’s delivered early, ad-free, and in high-bitrate audio.