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.