Apple breathes life into old idea with Live Photos

Apple iPhone 6 and 6S

Apple iPhone 6s and 6s Plus feature force-touch screens

Apple Inc. once again grabbed headlines with its fall product announcements, primarily about new hardware, like the AppleTV, the iPad Pro and two new iPhones, the 6s and the 6s Plus. Coverage of the new products has been, well, extensive to say the least, so we thought we would look at the photo-specific features of the announcements.

The new iPhones support Force Touch, already found on MacBooks and the Apple Watch, but this version is called “3D Touch” because it has varying levels of sensitivity. Apple calls two new gestures — Peek and Pop — to let the user “dip in and out” of content without their place. For example, pressing lightly to “Peek” at a photo, and press a little harder to Pop “open” the photo itself.

Apple also updated the camera hardware onthe new iPhones, featuring a 12-megapixel sensor with advanced pixel technology and Apple-designed image-signal processor; and a new 5-megapixel FaceTime HD camera and “Retina Flash” (which momentarily makes the display three times brighter with True Tone lighting, for illuminating low-light selfies).

One of the more interesting iPhone 6s camera features was Live Photos, which are 12-megapixel images with a short video component. Basically, the camera records a second-and-a-half worth of images both before and after the shutter press, and then plays the images with a 3-D Touch. At the press conference, Apple execs said these are not videos, but actual 12-megapixel images presented in succession, with sound. Live Photos can also be viewed as a watch face on Apple Watch.

While Live Photos was presented as a new, compelling feature, similar features have been available from other camera makers. For example, Panasonic calls this “4K Photo Pre-burst mode” on its Lumix G7, while makers like Casio and Sony have used pre-burst images to ensure the subjects are smiling. So Live Photos is not a technologically new idea, but Apple will do much to popularize this concept.

Here is a video demonstrating the Live Photos feature:


For video, both of the new iPhones offer HD and 4K video recording; the iPhone 6s Plus adds optical image stabilization to video recording.


MyPublisher makes books on iPad



Working with a touchscreen can somewhat emulate real objects — and now MyPublisher says its iPad app that “mimics the natural feeling of moving pictures around a page to make an album. KeepShot lets creativity flow naturally from your fingertips, instead of from steering a curser with a mouse.”

MyPublisher has provided custom photo books since 1994. “Photo books have been a popular way for people to print, preserve and share photos of important life events for almost 20 years,” the company says, “but KeepShot enables users to design photo books with their fingertips through simple touch gestures like dragging, pinching and tapping photos.”

The app is free; book prices start at $20.

Pogo Connects to Photoshop Touch on iPad


Editing photos on an iPad’s touchscreen can be fun, or it can make you curse your big clumsy fingers. But the $80 Pogo Connect stylus offers full pressure sensitivity, and the patent-pending technology in its Crescendo Sensor makes the stylus tip highly responsive to pressure, recognizing even the slightest touch.

“With zero grams of activation force, Crescendo Sensor works at all angles and requires absolutely no calibration, providing hundreds of levels of pressure,” says developer Ten One Design.

The stylus supports the updated Adobe Photoshop Touch app for drawing atop a photo, and pairs with the iPad over Bluetooth 4.


Apple minimizes iPad, improves iMac and MacBook displays

Perhaps now not all iPad users will look quite akward as they take photos using their tablet computers: the new iPad mini small and light enough to be held and used with one hand — “as thin as a pencil and as light as a pad of paper,” Apple says.

The iPad mini features a front-facing HD camera and a 5-megapixel camera on the back “with advanced optics for taking sharp still pictures and recording full 1080p HD video,” the company says. The iSight camera includes video image stabilization, and both cameras feature backside illumination “to let users capture great pictures in low light.”

The mini’s 7.9-inch display has the same number of pixels as the original iPad and iPad 2. The device is housed in aluminum and glass that is 7.2mm thin and weighs only 0.68 pounds — 23 percent thinner and 53 percent lighter than the third generation iPad. iPad mini pricing starts at $330. More information is here.

Also newly announced: the fourth generation iPad has a faster processor that delivers up to twice the CPU performance and up to twice the graphics performance of the previous model [which this reporter bought just a few short months ago…]. The iPad starts at $500.


“With vivid colors, razor sharp text and more pixels than anyone else’s 15 or 17-inch notebooks, the Retina display completely changes what you expect from a notebook.”

That what Apple has to say about its new 13-inch MacBook Pro, which adds a Retina display. The new MacBook Pro packs more than 4 million pixels into its display, Apple says, nearly twice the number of pixels in an HD television. At 227 pixels per inch, the Retina display’s pixel density is “so high the human eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels at a normal viewing distance, so images look sharp and text looks like it does on the printed page,” Aple adds. “With four times the pixels of the current 13-inch MacBook Pro, you can view and edit video in pixel-accurate HD and see a new level of detail in high resolution images.” Also, the display has IPS technology for a 178-degree wide viewing angle, and has 75 percent less reflection and 29 percent higher contrast than the current generation.

The laptop has all-flash storage in a new compact design that is 0.75 inches thick and 3.57 pounds — 20 percent thinner and almost a pound lighter than the current model. It has an HD camera and dual microphones. Pricing starts at $1,700. More information is here.

And finally: the new iMac also features a brilliant display, Apple says, as well as stunning new design that is “unbelievably thin” — the aluminum and glass enclosure has 40 percent less volume than its predecessor, and an edge that measures 5mm thin… all while housing a full-powered computer in the display case.

The new iMac features a completely reengineered display that reduces reflection by 75 percent while maintaining brilliant color and contrast, Apple says. In the new design, the cover glass is fully laminated to the LCD and an anti-reflective coating is applied using a high-precision plasma deposition process. Every iMac display is individually calibrated using an advanced spectroradiometer, the company adds.

Another new feature is Fusion Drive, a storage option that gives the performance of flash storage and the capacity of a hard drive, Apple says. It combines 128GB of flash with a standard 1TB or 3TB hard drive to create a single storage volume that “intelligently manages files to optimize read and write performance. Fusion Drive adapts to the way you use your iMac and automatically moves the files and apps you use most often to flash storage to enable faster performance and quicker access.”

Pricing starts at $1,300 for the 21.5-inch iMac, and $1,800 for the the 27-model.

Camera+ offers enhanced iPad version, iCloud sync

Recognizing that the iPad is being used as a camera as well as a photo organizer, app developer tap tap tap has revamped its leading iPhone shooter for the bigger screen with Camera+ for iPad.

“Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or someone who’s barely touched a camera, Camera+ will give you the tools to create the best quality images,” the company says. “Transform your photos with our advanced editing features, one-tap dazzling effects, and easily share them with friends and family.”

The iCloud sync feature syncs photos between all of devices, so users can “shoot all day on your iPhone, and then edit all night on your iPad.”

Also new on the iPad version are effects “you can brush on (or off) with your finger, so you apply it only where you want.” Users can set the brush size, softness and intensity.

Other iPad only tools are layered effects, photo straightening, and image adjustments such as white balance, exposure, brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness and red eye removal.

The app is $1.