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.

7 new Samsung features Apple should steal

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Note10
The Note 10 packs a ton of new features. Not all of them are great.
Photo: Samsung

Samsung’s new lineup of smartphones, tablets and notebooks were on full display today during the company’s Unpacked event for the Galaxy Note 10 in Brooklyn. Instead of waiting for Apple to introduce new iPhones and MacBooks in September, Samsung decided to get a head start on the competition.

Like pretty much all Samsung keynotes, the event included a shotgun blast of new features. Some of them are absolutely ridiculous and will be dead in the water at launch. However, Samsung’s team also uncorked a couple of great ideas that have us green with envy.

Hopefully, Apple execs are taking note of the good and bad things Samsung just revealed.

What’s new in iOS 13 beta 2

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iOS 13 has almost too many features to cover -- but that won't stop us trying.
iOS 13 has almost too many features to cover -- but that won't stop us trying.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The second iOS 13 and iPadOS betas bring both good news and bad. Unless you’re a total “thrill-seeker,” it’s still not a good idea to install these betas on your main iOS device. In fact, there will be far more spills than thrills: The code remains raw and buggy as hell.

I have iPadOS running on an old iPad. While this latest version seems much less ragged around the edges, many apps still crash. And I still can’t make the Slide Over apps hide themselves at the side of the screen. Nor do all my favorites appear in the Files app.

The good news is that, despite this, the latest betas offer several new features — and lots of stuff has been fixed. Let’s take a look at the highlights of what’s new in iOS 13 beta 2.

Apple shows how to disrupt portrait photos in new video

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iPhone XR
Learn how to give your portrait photos some pop.
Photo: Apple

Apple serves up a master crash course on how to take better Portrait Mode photos in its latest ad, courtesy of photographer Christopher Anderson.

A lot of times Apple’s tutorial type of videos are pretty generic, but Anderson actually has a lot of cool tips on how to add more intrigue to your photos. He plays around using objects, creative backgrounds and striking light juxtapositions to shoot some of the coolest iPhone photos you’ll see.

It’s best to watch this on your iPhone:

Portrait mode remains miraculous — but frustrating — on iPhone XS [Opinion]

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Portrait Mode is great, until it’s not. Fix failed focus with Focos.
When it works, Depth Control lets you dial in just the right amount of blur.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Portrait mode on the iPhone XS is pretty amazing — when it works. I gave it a good, hard workout after the device’s launch in September 2018, and found it to be an almost miraculous trick to fake the optical depth of photos taken on a bigger camera.

But after using it for half a year, does Portrait mode still seem so great? No. While it’s still just as impressive, sometimes it’s so frustrating to use that I just give up, quit the Camera app, and don’t bother to take a photo at all.

Depth Control starts feud in funny new Apple ad

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D5CF3129-981A-4C9B-B1D5-FE1123C0DAE1
“Did you just bokeh my child?!”
Photo: Apple

Depth Control is one of the best features on the new iPhones, but Apple shows that you might want to be careful about who you choose to use it on.

Apple just drop a hilarious new ad highlighting the new the feature that lets you adjust the amount of blur in a Portrait Mode photo. The funny 30-second ad shows two moms who start beefing with each other when one of them notices their child has been bokeh’d.

Get ready to giggle:

How to erase the background in your photos

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This needs some fine-tuning, but took just seconds to do.
This needs some fine-tuning, but took just seconds to do.
Photo: Cult of Mac

There are a bunch of reasons to remove the background from a photo. You might just hate the background — a perfect portrait ruined by crowds, or ugly construction work, or both. You may want to remove the background in order to extract the subject — maybe you’re doing some kind of Photoshop trick, or making a greetings card.

Whatever your reasons, it’s easy to do. Removing the background from an image used to be a nightmare. Now, you just need the right app. And if you’re a regular with our Cult of Mac photo how-tos, you probably have that app already.

How to fix up your janky Portrait Photos with Focos

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Portrait Mode is great, until it’s not. Fix failed focus with Focos.
Portrait Mode is great, until it’s not.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The Portrait Mode in the iPhone XR and XS is hands-down amazing. In the time it take to snap a photo, the camera scans the depth of the image in front of it, and uses that data to blur the background, and make the subject pop out, sharp. But it doesn’t always work. The depth detection gets confused by glass, for example, ruining what could have been an amazing image.

Today we’re going to use and app called Focos to fix these depth glitches. Focos is an all-round focusing powerhouse of an app, recently updated to support the iPad, including the new iPads Pro. The area we’ll focus on today (sorry) is the ability to edit the depth map, and paint back in the glass or hair that the iPhone missed.

How to change background blur in iPhone XS and XR photos

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Depth Control on iPhone XS
Depth Control can add subtle or wild background blur to your images.
Photo: Cult of Mac

The iPhone XS has an  amazing camera, and the best part of that camera is the Depth Control feature, which lets you adjust the background blur after you take the photo.

This is a powerful feature, but to get the most out of it, you might want to check out these tips and tricks on using Depth Control on iPhone XS.