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Depth Photography Apps and the New iPhones

Both the 8+ and the X capture detailed and editable depth data when shooting photos in portrait mode

by Josh Rubin
on 15 November 2017

Apple introduced Portrait Mode awhile back utilizing the dual lenses on their plus model phones to map depth in an image and blur out the background, creating the effect of a fast lens with the aperture wide open. With both the iPhone 8+ and the iPhone X on iOS 11 the depth data from portrait mode images is available to developers. Within Apple’s own Photos app this enables a new set of effects called Portrait Lighting to create dramatic, theatric or studio-like images. Third parties, however, are just beginning to tap in to the depth API to offer intriguing options for image editing. While Infltr simply allows you to filter and edit the foreground and background of an image separately, Focos let’s you choose exactly which parts of the image you want in focus and for those that blur out there’s extensive control for the blur effect.

The name Infltr is a play on the fact that the app lets you create a seemingly infinite number of filters for your photos; it’s an app that has been around for awhile. They recently added support for depth data by simply splitting out adjustments and filters to apply them to the foreground, background or full image. The resulting images can be somewhat funky or quite elegant, depending on your taste. Infltr is $2 in the app store.

Focos is a brand new app that was built from the ground up to fully leverage the detailed depth data available in Portrait Mode images on the newest iPhones. With the app you can choose which portion of the image should be in focus, the intensity of blur for out of focus areas plus the shape and texture of the bokeh in the blur.

There’s even a 3d extruded view where you can define exactly where the foreground ends and the background begins. Focos is free in the app store with in-app purchases to unlock pro features.

Images by Josh Rubin, edited in the referenced apps

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