Halide Developers Enable Portrait Mode on iPhone XR for Objects and Pets [Updated]

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Developers behind iOS camera app Halide say that they are planning to ship a version of the app that enables Portrait Mode on iPhone XR for "all sorts of things," and not just people (via Reddit). Because the iPhone XR has a single-lens rear camera (and not a dual-lens like iPhone XS), the cheaper smartphone doesn't capture as much depth information and the Portrait Mode bokeh effect in Apple's own Camera app only works on people.


As Wired explained in its review, if you try to take a Portrait image of a pet or object, the camera app will state "No person detected" at the top of the screen. Now, Halide says that it has already gotten the iPhone XR camera to work with Portrait Mode on pets and inanimate objects, but results haven't been consistent and some subjects can be harder to create a depth effect around.

We think with some more tooling, we'll be able to ship a version of our app that enables portrait mode for all sorts of things. It seems it'll be a bit more 'temperamental'; in some settings it won't work if there's not enough variance in relative distance of objects, but a can of soda water on my desk worked just fine.

Still, as Halide's Reddit post explains, this means that third-party camera apps on the iOS App Store will be able to provide users with a form of Portrait Mode on iPhone XR that enables bokeh effects around more than just people. Halide mentions that the iPhone XR's depth map is "way lower resolution" than the dual cameras on the iPhone XS, "but it seems usable."

iPhone XR launched a few days ago on October 26 and was met with positive reviews from the media, which praised its LCD display, bright colors, and iPhone XS-level performance. Thanks to the smartphone's lower price tag in comparison to the iPhone XS and XS Max, most outlets agreed that the iPhone XR will be the smartphone that most people will want to choose when looking at the new 2018 lineup of iPhones.

Update 12:00 p.m. PT: Halide has submitted version 1.11 to the iOS App Store, which unlocks the ability to take photos with Portrait Mode effects on pets and objects using iPhone XR. Now that it's been submitted, Halide says the update will be out soon, once it passes App Store review. More information can be found in the company's blog post.

Related Roundup: iPhone XR

Top Rated Comments

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22 months ago
It would be good if Apple provides an option for using portrait mode with Xs' wide angle camera only. Reviewers have pointed out that while Apple upgraded the wide angle lens sensor, it cleverly chose to ignore mentioning the telephoto lens, so as a result, under low light conditions XR portraits come out better than XS'. It would have been better if both sensors were upgraded at the same time.. but that could be its marketing strategy saving it for the next year's upgrade.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 months ago

Since the single lens Pixel can do portrait for things other than people, its good to see iOS getting this option as well, thanks Halide. Maybe as a feature next year Apple will figure out how these guys do this for non "people" as well.

Sure they will figure this out. This is just a software feature. However, they will make you buy next years phone in order to enable it ;)
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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22 months ago
Yay. I can haz portrait mode for kitteh.

Though so far even on my 8 Plus that feature seems to make the edges of my cat look weird.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 months ago

I'm sure Apple can do portrait mode for most objects on the XR but decided to limit it, because, you know why.

Yes, we do. Because the algorithm is optimized for people. Using it for other targets can yeild unpredictable results that Apple does not want to be measured against.
If there were anything marketing aspect to it, Apple would advertise this is a distinguishing feature between the models.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 months ago
At least not yet..but technically it's possible since both XR and XS use the same wide angle camera sensor. Depends on whether Apple provides access to the wide angle and telephoto cameras independently - will have to check on that

Does this app allow that?

Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 months ago
No pet portrait mode was the nail in the coffin for the XR for me.

XS is CRAZY expensive so I'm just sticking with my 7+ for now... still hopeful for a good holiday season trade in promotion.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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