Google takes aim at Apple with Pixel 4, Pixel Buds and more

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Google
Google has a bunch of new hardware coming down the pipeline.
Photo: Google

Google is gunning for Apple with a wave of new products designed to compete with everything from the iPhone to AirPods.

During its hour-long event this morning, Google revealed its best smartphone ever in the Pixel 4 and we must say, it actually looks pretty awesome. Google also came out with new smart speakers, WiFi routers, a new MacBook competitor and much more.

For a company that makes most of its money off of search engine ads, Google’s hardware game is finally looking like a worthy Apple challenger.

Caution: Don’t rush to upgrade to macOS Catalina

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macOS Catalina is here. But proceed from Mojave with caution.
macOS Catalina is here. But proceed from Mojave with caution.
Photo: Apple

Catalina the island is a paradise. Catalina, the Mac operating system, could be hell for some creatives, including DJs, writers and photographers if they immediately upgrade.

Adobe, makers of Photoshop and Lightroom, are telling users to hold off on updating to macOS Catalina until it can iron out a number of compatibility issues.

Apple tests dazzling Deep Fusion for iPhone 11 in new iOS 13 beta

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iPhone-11-cameras
Deep Fusion makes smartphone photos better than ever.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Apple is today providing beta testers with an early taste of its upcoming Deep Fusion feature for iPhone 11.

Apple first previewed the new technology, which promises to deliver some of the most detailed photos you’ve ever shot on a smartphone, at the iPhone 11 launch event last month.

Registered developers can start trying it out today by downloading the latest iOS 13 beta.

How to use iPhone 11’s flash-killing Night Mode

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Maybe the iPhone 11 can finally take a night photo like this.
Maybe the iPhone 11 can finally take a night photo like this.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Night Mode is one of the iPhone 11’s two big new camera features (the other is the Ultra Wide lens). Night Mode captures lots and lots of images, and then uses the iPhone’s A13 Bionic processor to combine them, pulling out details not available in a single low-light shot.

It’s the computational-photography mad science equivalent of putting your regular camera on a tripod and opening up the shutter for a few seconds to let more light in. Only you don’t need the tripod, and the images should almost always end up sharp.

Here’s how to use iPhone 11’s Night Mode.

Check out the amazing new iOS 13 video-editing features

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iOS 13 video editing
Confused?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

In iPadOS and iOS 13, you can edit videos just the same way you’ve always ben able to edit photos. You can crop them, rotate them, add filters and adjust their color. And — finally — you can simply save the edited version instead of spawning a copy every time you make a simple trim. No need for iMovie — the iOS Photos app can now perform radical edits to videos. This isn’t limited to the iPhones 11, either. You can do all this on any iPhone or iPad running iOS 13.

Check out the great new iOS 13 video editing features:

How to use iOS 13’s new High-Key Mono Portrait Lighting effect

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High-Key Light Mono before after
You can shoot studio portraits anywhere.
Photo: Apple

Whenever I open up the For You tab in the Photos app, every single “effect suggestion” is Brighten this Portrait Photo with Studio Lighting. Every single one. I’m not even exaggerating. And I’m never interested, because Studio Lighting, along with all the other Portrait Lighting effects, is junk. Now, though, with iOS 13’s new High-Key Light Mono effect, there’s at least one Portrait Lighting effect worth using.

Here’s why High-Key Mono looks great — and how to use it.

Brilliant new ads put iPhone 11 Pro through the wringer

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iphone11
The iPhone 11 Pro can take damage.
Photo: Apple

YouTube is about to get swarmed with new iPhone 11 stress test videos starting on September 20 but Apple just beat everyone to the punch with its latest ad that shows this year’s iPhone is the toughest yet.

Apple dropped two new iPhone 11 Pro ads this morning showing off the durability of the new phones and the triple-camera system. Both ads take place in a grungy sci-fi testing chamber where everything from broccoli to a wedding cake is thrown at the iPhone. Each ad is a minute long and if you don’t fall in love with the fluffy dog in the camera video then you have no heart.

Watch both ads here:

How to get Portrait mode-style depth of field with any iPhone or iPad

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Portrait Photos, no iPhone X required.
Take Portrait mode-style photos, no iPhone X required.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

We’ve written a lot about the Focos photo app here on Cult of Mac, because it’s like the Photoshop of focus. The universal iOS app lets you edit the focus of your Portrait mode photos in crazy depth (pun intended). But v2.0 just launched, and it’s hands-down amazing.

Focos 2 uses machine learning to calculate the depth of any photo, and then apply portrait-style blur to it. That means you can take portrait photos on the iPad and, wildest of all, you can apply a portrait background blur to photos you’ve saved from the internet.

How to remove the background from your Portrait photos

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Geese with transparent background
Honk honk! Goodbye pesky background.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The iPhone’s incredible Portrait mode does a great job of blurring the backgrounds of photos, making the subject stand out from busy backdrops. (Apple also uses this depth information for its truly awful Portrait Lighting effects — has anyone ever gotten a good result from the Stage Light filter? — but that’s another story.)

What if you could use the depth information inside Portrait photos to get rid of the background entirely? Wouldn’t that be something? Well, yes it would. And if you have the right app, it’s really easy to remove photo backgrounds.

Fake AI skies look amazing, but not everybody’s thrilled

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sky replacement tool in Luminar 4
Pick a sky that wasn't there when you took the photo.
Photo: Skylum

Imaging software company Skylum markets its photo editing tools as huge time savers. Just click a preset look or move a few slider bars and you have a beautifully styled final image within minutes.

Skylum was on message when it announced an upcoming AI tool for instantly replacing the sky. The company declared, “The days of spending a lot of time manually creating a complicated mask to replace skies in an image are over.”

Yet the debate over artificial intelligence’s role in photography is only beginning. In the week since Skylum announced and demoed AI Sky Replacement, photographers have spent considerable time in online forums drawing lines between ethics and creativity.