Halide brings Deep Fusion-style photo processing to older iPhones

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Smartest Processing,
Shot with Halide.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Today’s release of iOS 13.2 brings Apple’s new Deep Fusion feature, so iPhone 11 owners can start taking beautifully detailed photographs of sweaters. But if you have an older iPhone, Halide has you covered. The iOS photo app’s new Smartest Processing update brings Deep Fusion-style detail to anybody’s sweater shots.

Halide Smartest Processing

I love Halide. I like everything about it. But this new name — Smartest Processing — is one of the worst feature names since Apple started trying to make “slofie” a thing.

The feature itself looks pretty great. Like Deep Fusion, Smartest Processing grabs several photos and combines them to create one superphoto, with extra dynamic range and image quality.

I tested the feature — it’s available now in the latest v1.15.0 in the App Store, and to be honest I couldn’t see any difference in the images. I shot the same scene — once with the iPhone’s native Camera app, and twice with Halide. For the Halide shots, I did one with the Smartest Processing feature on and one with it off. (You can disable it in settings, although it comes enabled by default.)

A crocheted cactus.
A crocheted cactus.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

My favorite sweater is full of holes, so I grabbed my crocheted cactus, which is the next best thing. Examining all the photos side by side, I could spot no difference1. Then I took a look on the bigger iPad screen.

Subtle, but definitely better

The difference isn’t immediately obvious from a normal viewing distance. Small details all look just as sharp in both versions. When you really get in close, though, you can see that colored areas under less-bright lighting show up the differences. In the regular shot, these areas look a little stippled. It’s as if they’ve been painted in with a tiny brush, and you can see the virtual brush marks. The makeup of the image is a little blocky.

Halide Smartest Processing even works with Portrait Mode.
It even works with Portrait mode.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

In the Smartest Processing version, these areas look more detailed. The difference is slight, but it is there. And I imagine that it gets better under poorer lighting conditions, which is where these blocky artifacts usually manifest.

iPhone XS

Smartest Processing requires an iPhone XS or better to work, but perhaps that’s not the point. After all, Halide is meant to be the pro-level camera for your iPhone. And for that to remain true, it needs to offer all the features of the built-in camera, as well as its own special options.

Halide continues to be one of the best alternate camera apps for the iPhone. In my opinion, it is the best. It’s easy to use, and gives amazing results, while minimizing the gimmicks that other apps can’t stop themselves from adding.

To read more about the technology behind Smartest Processing, check out the latest Halide blog post.

  1. I posted the comparison shots here, but the image compression automatically added by our WordPress installation means you probably can’t see the difference anyway.