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

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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

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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.