HomeRun, Name Skillz, Digital D1, and other amazing apps of the week


Awesome Apps
'Appy weekend.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

This week we find out that Halide has added yet another awesome new feature to the iPhone’s best camera app, that the AudioKit team has busted out yet another amazing (and retro) synthesizer, that Name Skillz exists to help you remember people’s names, and that HomeRun has scored — yes — a home run with its HomeKit-controlling Apple Watch app.

Halide fixes iPhone XR’s Portrait Mode


Halide iPhone xr portrait mode
Halide unlocks Portrait Mode on the iPhone XR.
Photo: Chroma Noir LLC

Apart from the screen, the big different between the iPhone XS and XR is the camera. The XS has two, and the XR only has one. This means that — like a one-eyed person — the XR camera can’t calculate the depth of objects in a scene, and therefore can’t use the Depth Blur feature to blur the background. It works around this by using clever facial recognition tricks to allow Portrait Mode with people, but that’s it.

Until now, that it. In its latest update, camera app Halide adds back this functionality to the new iPhone. That’s right. With Halide, you can take depth-effect pictures of anything with the iPhone XR.

5 great apps that bust out the bokeh on iPhone XS and XR


The iPhone XS' new bokeh tool is just the beginning.
The iPhone XS' new bokeh tool is just the beginning.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The iPhone XS camera is pretty incredible. The device uses its two rear cameras, plus the A12 chip’s Neural Engine, to record such an accurate 3D map of the scene that you can adjust the background blur with a slider. But that depth map is useful for more than just blurring backgrounds. It can be used by other apps to:

  • Add realistic lights to a scene.
  • Choose any subject to be in focus, not just the one you picked when shooting.
  • Add custom background blurs.
  • Remove and replace backgrounds, like movie green-screen effects.

The iPhone XS is the gold standard for iOS cameras, but the XR manages some excellent tricks of its own. Despite having only one rear camera, the XR can still recognise people, and then use AI and the super-powerful A12 Neural Engine to separate out the person form the background. While this portrait matte isn’t as detailed as an iPhone XS depth map, it can in theory still be used to do many of the same tricks.

Today we’ll look at the best depth apps for the new iPhone XS, XR, and XS Max.

How to get extreme background blur in iPhone XS photos


What's the fastest cake in the world?
What's the fastest cake in the world?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The iPhone XS Portrait Mode is the best thing to happen to iPhone photography in quite a while. It uses the XS’ dual cameras, plus the A12 chip’s Neural Engine, to work out how far away everything is in your photos. Then, it blurs everything in the background, just as if you used a fancy big camera.

But what if you want more blur? The XS’ Depth Control feature is very realistic, but maybe it’s a bit too realistic? Maybe you want to really wipe out that background with some extra blur. The good news is, there are some great apps that do that.

Beautygate: Top camera developer debunks iPhone XS beauty filter


Some people get better looking with age and some get better looking with the iPhone XS.
Screenshot: Unboxing Therapy/YouTube

Turns out the entire “Beautygate” controversy has been much ado about nothing.

Corners of the internet have been up in arms over a perceived flaw in the iPhone XS camera that makes people in selfies look better than they should. Apple is supposedly looking to “fix” the undisclosed beauty filter, but developers behind one of the best iOS camera apps revealed today that such a filter does not exist.

5 essential apps that work beautifully with iOS 12


Halide can now add custom background blurs in iOS 12.
Halide can now add custom background blurs in iOS 12.
Photo: Halide

iOS 12 gives your favorite apps access to some amazing new abilities. One is integration with the brand-new Siri Shortcuts, which lets you automate your apps, or to interact with them by talking to Siri. But that’s not all. Camera apps now have access to the the depth information from Portrait Mode, so they can do some pretty special effects.

Safari’s password autofill has also been opened up, so apps like Dashlane and 1Password are now available with a single tap. Let’s take a look at the best new iOS 12-ready apps already available.

iOS 12 brings big improvements to iPhone’s Portrait mode


truedepth iphone x camera portrait lighting
Portrait mode never looked so good on iPhone.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

iOS 12 packs a whole host of significant improvements that Apple didn’t get a chance to showcase during its WWDC preview. One of those, according to one developer, is a greatly-enhanced Portrait mode for compatible iPhone models.

The image below highlights the impressive difference between a Portrait photo taken with iOS 11 and another taken with iOS 12.