No pet detection on iPhone SE Portrait Mode? These apps will help

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iPhone SE pet photos: With Halide Camera and Spectre, you can bokeh everyone in your household, human or otherwise.
Now you can bokeh everyone in your household, human or otherwise.
Photo: Halide

The iPhone SE does a great job of taking the body of the iPhone 8 and infusing it with some of iPhone 11’s cutting-edge tech. But not every feature carried across to Apple’s new budget phone. For instance, the iPhone SE lacks the ability to take Portrait photos of pets.

That’s somewhat confusing, since iPhone SE’s Portrait mode works impressively. Fortunately, updates to a pair of highly rated apps will let iPhone SE owners take Portrait photos of nonhumans for just a few bucks.

Pets being detected by the iPhone’s Portrait mode might sound like (and, let’s face it, is) a fairly minor detail. However, the feature clearly matters to a lot of people. Apple even made a point of acknowledging it when showing off last year’s iPhone 11 refresh.

“Yay, pets!” said Apple’s Kaiann Drance after announcing the then-new feature.

Portrait mode photos of pets

According to Apple, the ability of the iPhone 11 to recognize pets in Portrait mode came down to “semantic rendering” tech. This allowed the iPhone 11 series to “more reliably detect subjects,” such as your beloved pooch or tabby.

But this is not possible in the iPhone SE — at least not as a stock feature. But using Halide’s Camera app and Spectre long-exposure app, you can now bokeh the heck out of your nonhuman housemates. (It’s not just animals, either. These apps also give you the ability to take bokeh’d pictures of objects like flowers.)

The Halide 1.17 and Spectre 1.1.8 updates cater specifically to iPhone SE users. While the Portrait mode-style tech is the main draw, the apps also offer a plethora of manual controls for photos that go way beyond what Apple offers as standard. You only need the standard Camera app for basic Portrait Mode-style capabilities, but the Spectre app is well worth checking out if you’re interested in long-exposure photography.

Halide Camera is available for download from the App Store for $5.99. Halide Spectre will set you back another $2.99.