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Apple Shares New Ads Highlighting iPhone X Face ID and Portrait Lighting

Apple this afternoon shared three new ads on its YouTube channel, all of which are quick clips that focus on select iPhone X features like Portrait Lighting and Face ID.

The first video, “Opens with a Glance,” displays the iPhone X with the words “Introducing the most unforgettable magical password ever created. Your face,” before showing off a series of faces to demonstrate how the iPhone X can be unlocked with facial recognition.

A second video, “Adapts to Your Face,” was previously available on Apple’s Canadian YouTube channel. It’s designed to highlight the machine learning techniques used to allow Face ID to adapt to beards, hats, sunglasses, and other facial changes.

The third video, “Introducing Portrait Lighting,” demonstrates the Portrait Lighting feature that’s available on the iPhone X. Portrait lighting is designed to allow users to adjust the lighting in an image using depth mapping techniques, and it is also available on iPhone 8 Plus.

Today’s iPhone X videos follow several iPhone X feature ads that Apple shared in late November. Those previous videos focused on Face ID and Animoji, demonstrating specific Face ID features like its ability to work in the dark and adapt to makeup.

Apple will use these short 15-second ads to show off iPhone X features on television, on the web, and on social networks like Instagram.

How to take your best portrait photos on your iPhone

a5c6e_snapseed How to take your best portrait photos on your iPhone

Learn how to take the best portraits on your iPhone.


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Shooting lovely pictures of your family and friends is one of the best uses for your phone’s camera. Though I regularly shoot weddings as a professional photographer using expensive DSLRs and lights, I also love using my iPhone ($699.00 at Apple) to take gorgeous portraits.

Taking your phone portrait photography from casual Facebook snaps to frame-worthy art is simple, you just need to follow these easy tips. While I shot my pictures on the iPhone X ($1,149.00 at Apple), most of these examples will apply to any phone camera.

This article is part of my series on how to take better photos with your phone. Make sure to check out my best tips on taking great shots of cars and how to take amazing action sports photos.

Consider the setting for your portrait

Location is everything, so think carefully about where you’ll shoot and whether the surroundings match the people you’re photographing and tell the story you want to capture. Hoping for a sweet photo for your grandparents’ anniversary? That gritty wall of street art probably isn’t the best place to represent them and the time they’ve spent together (unless they painted it, of course).

A natural pose for a natural shot

One of the best ways to turn awkward holiday snaps into stunning portraits doesn’t involve equipment at all. Forget about asking your subjects to stand up straight and stare straight into the camera — it’s not a natural pose, and it sure as hell won’t look it in the pictures.

a5c6e_snapseed How to take your best portrait photos on your iPhone

Get your subjects to pose naturally. 


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Instead, talk to your subjects and help them to relax. Put your phone down for a moment and see how they naturally position themselves when they’re not being photographed. Don’t force it; give them time to unwind and try a few different poses — sitting, standing, even lying down — and see how they respond. Remember that if they feel uncomfortable, they’ll look uncomfortable.

Try for a variety of facial expressions, too. If you’re taking photos at a wedding or birthday, try to get your subjects to laugh — their expressions will convey the joyful emotions of the day and result in a natural-looking photo. For a more candid feel, have them look away from the camera too, as though they didn’t know you were there taking photos.

Creative composition

a5c6e_snapseed How to take your best portrait photos on your iPhone

Always remember the rule of thirds.


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Composition is crucial in all aspects of photography, but nowhere is it more important than in portraits. Simply putting your subjects in the middle of the frame with no thought about where they are in the scene won’t produce the best shots. But taking a moment to think about how you’ll compose a photo and how your subjects will fit into it is a great step towards a better portrait.

Rather than framing a subject so your shot includes the body down to the waist, try moving in to fill more of the frame with their head and shoulders. Then, move away to capture the entire body and more of the background.

Don’t have people stand in the center of the picture, either. Consider the photography “rule of thirds” and frame in the right or left third of the image instead. Most smartphones have a rule-of-thirds grid overlay (look in the Settings menu) that’ll help you compose this shot.

a5c6e_snapseed How to take your best portrait photos on your iPhone

Portrait mode isn’t just for iPhone users.


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Pay attention to the background in the shot, and make sure that all the elements are where you want them to be. Check that the horizon line is straight, that there’s no streetlight or tree sticking out of the top of someone’s head and that any buildings (such as a church spire) aren’t sliced off at the top. Remember that you can fix some lighting and color issues with editing, but you can’t rescue bad composition.

Composition is important for lighting, too. With a bright sky in the background you have two choices on a phone: Expose for the sky and plunge your subject into shadow or expose for your subject and likely wash out the sky. Instead, move your subject to a location where they’re lit well by the sun, but with no bright background.

Use portrait mode

Portraits shot on a DSLR with a telephoto lense have a characteristic blur to the background which helps the subject really pop out of the scene. Now that feature has come to phones. The iPhone 7 Plus ($894.99 at Amazon.com), 8 Plus and X all have a portrait mode which can simulate that effect and give a great depth of field to your images.

You’ll get the best results when your subject is close to your camera (between 3 and 6 feet). When you switch to portrait mode, your phone’s camera will automatically apply the depth effect when it focuses on your subject’s face. It can be a bit hit and miss (busy hairstyles with lots of flyaways don’t always produce good results), and might take a few attempts to get just right, but it works well if you take the time.

Phones like the new Pixel 2 ($649.99 at Verizon Wireless), Note 8 and OnePlus 5T have portrait modes as well, so it’s not just iPhone users who can get this effect.

Don’t be afraid to experiment

Even with all I’ve just said, don’t stick too rigidly to rules of how a photo “should” be taken. It’s when you start to break the rules and play around a bit that the creativity really starts to flow. Move around your subject while you’re shooting to mix up your composition, try some new angles, or find some unusual locations.

Never be afraid to try something new and unusual in your photos. With the ability to store hundreds of pictures on your phone, the worst-case scenario is that you simply delete an image that didn’t work out. You might just come away with a wonderfully unique image that you’ll treasure for years.

Edit for artistic results

a5c6e_snapseed How to take your best portrait photos on your iPhone

Have fun with your edits, you can always return to the original. 


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Clever editing is a great way to turn an everyday snap into a beautiful piece of artwork. When shooting on your phone, apps like Snapseed, VSCO and even Instagram (all free on both iOS and Android) have a variety of filters and tools to tweak your portraits to your desires.

There’s no single correct way to edit a photo. I love simply playing around with different effects and seeing what works. You can always undo your edits if you don’t like them and go back to the original.  

For some general editing tips however, try to avoid increasing contrast and structure too much (unless you want a very stylised, dramatic effect) as it can produce an unflattering effect on skin. Also avoid any colour filters that result in too much of a sickly green tinge to the face. 

Anything iPhone X can do… Android phones will get ‘deep portrait …

The iPhone X has been out for a little more than a month, but there are already plans to replicate its headline features in 2018’s high-end Android phones.

‘Deep portrait’ selfie photography, and Face ID and Unlock, will be supported by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset, which is likely to be in a majority of top Androids next year.

This will enable bokeh-rich portrait photos from the selfie camera, which we’ve mainly seen on rear-facing cameras among Android phones. Blurring the background in your subject-focused selfies is a much more compelling effect than selfie beauty mode and skin smoothing, which almost blurs… you.

And while Android handsets have had a primitive version of Face ID and Unlock, Qualcomm’s solution is being touted as a way to match Apple’s TrueDepth front-facing camera. It all needs to start at the system-on-a-chip level.

We don’t know which phones will support the Snapdragon 845 chipset, and in turn support deep portrait selfies and Face ID, but almost all major phone makers did have the Snapdragon 835 chipset at the core of their hardware. The Samsung Galaxy S9 may be the first with the new 10nm silicon. 

Ready for Android Animoji?

You can also expect to see more 3D face-mapping on Android phones to match what we’ve seen from Apple’s Animoji feature.

Qualcomm’s new chipset has active depth-sensing and supports IR sensors for face-mapping. The company also talked up the security of its chip, noting that face-mapping security is of the utmost importance.

The Huawei-made Honor View 10 is already attempting to clone Animoji, but having the architecture in place on the chip is vital to improving performance and adoption of the next-generation of front-facing camera features.

  • We’re reporting live from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii, bringing you the latest news, features and hands on reviews on the future of smartphones, laptops, 5G and IoT. You can follow all our coverage here.

Anything iPhone X can do… Android phones will get ‘deep portrait …

The iPhone X has been out for a little more than a month, but there are already plans to replicate its headline features in 2018’s high-end Android phones.

‘Deep portrait’ selfie photography, and Face ID and Unlock, will be supported by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset, which is likely to be in a majority of top Androids next year.

This will enable bokeh-rich portrait photos from the selfie camera, which we’ve mainly seen on rear-facing cameras among Android phones. Blurring the background in your subject-focused selfies is a much more compelling effect than selfie beauty mode and skin smoothing, which almost blurs… you.

And while Android handsets have had a primitive version of Face ID and Unlock, Qualcomm’s solution is being touted as a way to match Apple’s TrueDepth front-facing camera. It all needs to start at the system-on-a-chip level.

We don’t know which phones will support the Snapdragon 845 chipset, and in turn support deep portrait selfies and Face ID, but almost all major phone makers did have the Snapdragon 835 chipset at the core of their hardware. The Samsung Galaxy S9 may be the first with the new 10nm silicon. 

Ready for Android Animoji?

You can also expect to see more 3D face-mapping on Android phones to match what we’ve seen from Apple’s Animoji feature.

Qualcomm’s new chipset has active depth-sensing and supports IR sensors for face-mapping. The company also talked up the security of its chip, noting that face-mapping security is of the utmost importance.

The Huawei-made Honor View 10 is already attempting to clone Animoji, but having the architecture in place on the chip is vital to improving performance and adoption of the next-generation of front-facing camera features.

  • We’re reporting live from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii, bringing you the latest news, features and hands on reviews on the future of smartphones, laptops, 5G and IoT. You can follow all our coverage here.

Anything iPhone X can do… Android phones will get ‘deep portrait …

The iPhone X has been out for a little more than a month, but there are already plans to replicate its headline features in 2018’s high-end Android phones.

‘Deep portrait’ selfie photography, and Face ID and Unlock, will be supported by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset, which is likely to be in a majority of top Androids next year.

This will enable bokeh-rich portrait photos from the selfie camera, which we’ve mainly seen on rear-facing cameras among Android phones. Blurring the background in your subject-focused selfies is a much more compelling effect than selfie beauty mode and skin smoothing, which almost blurs… you.

And while Android handsets have had a primitive version of Face ID and Unlock, Qualcomm’s solution is being touted as a way to match Apple’s TrueDepth front-facing camera. It all needs to start at the system-on-a-chip level.

We don’t know which phones will support the Snapdragon 845 chipset, and in turn support deep portrait selfies and Face ID, but almost all major phone makers did have the Snapdragon 835 chipset at the core of their hardware. The Samsung Galaxy S9 may be the first with the new 10nm silicon. 

Ready for Android Animoji?

You can also expect to see more 3D face-mapping on Android phones to match what we’ve seen from Apple’s Animoji feature.

Qualcomm’s new chipset has active depth-sensing and supports IR sensors for face-mapping. The company also talked up the security of its chip, noting that face-mapping security is of the utmost importance.

The Huawei-made Honor View 10 is already attempting to clone Animoji, but having the architecture in place on the chip is vital to improving performance and adoption of the next-generation of front-facing camera features.

  • We’re reporting live from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii, bringing you the latest news, features and hands on reviews on the future of smartphones, laptops, 5G and IoT. You can follow all our coverage here.

Anything iPhone X can do… Android phones will get ‘deep portrait …

The iPhone X has been out for a little more than a month, but there are already plans to replicate its headline features in 2018’s high-end Android phones.

‘Deep portrait’ selfie photography, and Face ID and Unlock, will be supported by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset, which is likely to be in a majority of top Androids next year.

This will enable bokeh-rich portrait photos from the selfie camera, which we’ve mainly seen on rear-facing cameras among Android phones. Blurring the background in your subject-focused selfies is a much more compelling effect than selfie beauty mode and skin smoothing, which almost blurs… you.

And while Android handsets have had a primitive version of Face ID and Unlock, Qualcomm’s solution is being touted as a way to match Apple’s TrueDepth front-facing camera. It all needs to start at the system-on-a-chip level.

We don’t know which phones will support the Snapdragon 845 chipset, and in turn support deep portrait selfies and Face ID, but almost all major phone makers did have the Snapdragon 835 chipset at the core of their hardware. The Samsung Galaxy S9 may be the first with the new 10nm silicon. 

Ready for Android Animoji?

You can also expect to see more 3D face-mapping on Android phones to match what we’ve seen from Apple’s Animoji feature.

Qualcomm’s new chipset has active depth-sensing and supports IR sensors for face-mapping. The company also talked up the security of its chip, noting that face-mapping security is of the utmost importance.

The Huawei-made Honor View 10 is already attempting to clone Animoji, but having the architecture in place on the chip is vital to improving performance and adoption of the next-generation of front-facing camera features.

  • We’re reporting live from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii, bringing you the latest news, features and hands on reviews on the future of smartphones, laptops, 5G and IoT. You can follow all our coverage here.

Anything iPhone X can do… Android phones will get ‘deep portrait …

The iPhone X has been out for a little more than a month, but there are already plans to replicate its headline features in 2018’s high-end Android phones.

‘Deep portrait’ selfie photography, and Face ID and Unlock, will be supported by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset, which is likely to be in a majority of top Androids next year.

This will enable bokeh-rich portrait photos from the selfie camera, which we’ve mainly seen on rear-facing cameras among Android phones. Blurring the background in your subject-focused selfies is a much more compelling effect than selfie beauty mode and skin smoothing, which almost blurs… you.

And while Android handsets have had a primitive version of Face ID and Unlock, Qualcomm’s solution is being touted as a way to match Apple’s TrueDepth front-facing camera. It all needs to start at the system-on-a-chip level.

We don’t know which phones will support the Snapdragon 845 chipset, and in turn support deep portrait selfies and Face ID, but almost all major phone makers did have the Snapdragon 835 chipset at the core of their hardware. The Samsung Galaxy S9 may be the first with the new 10nm silicon. 

Ready for Android Animoji?

You can also expect to see more 3D face-mapping on Android phones to match what we’ve seen from Apple’s Animoji feature.

Qualcomm’s new chipset has active depth-sensing and supports IR sensors for face-mapping. The company also talked up the security of its chip, noting that face-mapping security is of the utmost importance.

The Huawei-made Honor View 10 is already attempting to clone Animoji, but having the architecture in place on the chip is vital to improving performance and adoption of the next-generation of front-facing camera features.

  • We’re reporting live from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii, bringing you the latest news, features and hands on reviews on the future of smartphones, laptops, 5G and IoT. You can follow all our coverage here.

Android phones in 2018: Portrait pics on a single camera lens

The smartphone trend of two rear cameras for artistic portrait shots is so pervasive that even dirt-cheap budget phones sport dual lenses on the back. That could change next as early as next year as new chip technology from Qualcomm makes it possible to take a Bokeh portrait photo from a single camera lens.

It’s similar to the Google Pixel 2, which bucks the dual-camera standard now adopted by virtually every other high-end phone, though that device certainly gives us a model of what’s possible using software alone.

790d6_dslrvsiphonex-cnet Android phones in 2018: Portrait pics on a single camera lens

The technology comes down to AI algorithms processed within the Snapdragon 845 chip that Qualcomm announced this week at an annual summit. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors are used in the majority of high-end smartphones, where their capabilities form the backbone of what phones like the next Samsung Galaxy, LG, Motorola and OnePlus phones can do. Qualcomm faces competition on the high-end from Apple, Huawei and to a certain degree Samsung, which rely on their own house-made chipsets (a portion of Samsung phones run on the Exynos processor, typically for Asian markets).

Being able to take portrait shots on a single camera lens can help phonemakers shed the cost of a second camera array. Alternatively, phones with a second camera lens that’s used for adding detail but not portrait blur — like a monochrome camera — can offer the feature on the dominant lens.

790d6_dslrvsiphonex-cnet Android phones in 2018: Portrait pics on a single camera lens

The bokeh or depth-of-field effect — which softly blurs the background while keeping the photo’s subject in focus — is a carryover from DSLR cameras that Apple popularized with the iPhone 7 Plus. 

“In a smartphone, you need to calculate a depth map,” said Tim Leland, Qualcomm’s vice president of product management. “That depth map then gets fed into another system, which then applies a manipulation or blurring of those pixels in a different way that mimics the bokeh effect.”

Smartphone makers typically achieve bokeh with two lenses, which create a kind of stereo effect to generate a sense of depth. Qualcomm’s approach with its feature, which it calls Deep Portrait, is to run the image through a computational neural network that applies artificial intelligence to determine the subject from the background.

“You don’t want to blur somebody’s face for example or accidentally blur somebody’s hair,” Leland said.

Qualcomm isn’t suggesting that phones should ditch a two-camera system, or that bokeh portraits taken with software rather than camera hardware are higher quality. In fact, Leland noted that the algorithms could improve the blurring accuracy of two camera lenses.

“AI is one of those things where you can’t necessarily do something without it,” he said. “But it makes it better.”

As the Google Pixel and Pixel 2 prove with their Lens Blur feature, you can take bokeh portraits using software alone. Traditional computer vision can already recognize diff types of objects by looking at specific patterns of contrasting pixels. Artificial intelligence recognizes objects in their entirety over time. For example, show an AI program thousands of photos of chairs and over time it will recognize what is and isn’t a chair. Artificial intelligence aims to speed up the process.

Read next: What Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon chip could mean for Galaxy S9

And also: 4 ways your phone’s next camera could get more awesome

Anything iPhone X can do… Android phones will get ‘deep portrait’ mode and Face ID

The iPhone X has been out for a little more than a month, but there are already plans to replicate its headline features in 2018’s high-end Android phones.

‘Deep portrait’ selfie photography, and Face ID and Unlock, will be supported by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset, which is likely to be in a majority of top Androids next year.

This will enable bokeh-rich portrait photos from the selfie camera, which we’ve mainly seen on rear-facing cameras among Android phones. Blurring the background in your subject-focused selfies is a much more compelling effect than selfie beauty mode and skin smoothing, which almost blurs… you.

And while Android handsets have had a primitive version of Face ID and Unlock, Qualcomm’s solution is being touted as a way to match Apple’s TrueDepth front-facing camera. It all needs to start at the system-on-a-chip level.

We don’t know which phones will support the Snapdragon 845 chipset, and in turn support deep portrait selfies and Face ID, but almost all major phone makers did have the Snapdragon 835 chipset at the core of their hardware. The Samsung Galaxy S9 may be the first with the new 10nm silicon. 

Ready for Android Animoji?

You can also expect to see more 3D face-mapping on Android phones to match what we’ve seen from Apple’s Animoji feature.

Qualcomm’s new chipset has active depth-sensing and supports IR sensors for face-mapping. The company also talked up the security of its chip, noting that face-mapping security is of the utmost importance.

The Huawei-made Honor View 10 is already attempting to clone Animoji, but having the architecture in place on the chip is vital to improving performance and adoption of the next-generation of front-facing camera features.

  • We’re reporting live from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii, bringing you the latest news, features and hands on reviews on the future of smartphones, laptops, 5G and IoT. You can follow all our coverage here.

Google responds to iPhone X: Android phones will get ‘deep portrait’ mode and Face ID

The iPhone X has been out for a little more than a month, but there are already plans to replicate its headline features in 2018’s high-end Android phones.

‘Deep portrait’ selfie photography, and Face ID and Unlock, will be supported by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset, which is likely to be in a majority of top Androids next year.

This will enable bokeh-rich portrait photos from the selfie camera, which we’ve mainly seen on rear-facing cameras among Android phones. Blurring the background in your subject-focused selfies is a much more compelling effect than selfie beauty mode and skin smoothing, which almost blurs… you.

And while Android handsets have had a primitive version of Face ID and Unlock, Qualcomm’s solution is being touted as a way to match Apple’s TrueDepth front-facing camera. It all needs to start at the system-on-a-chip level.

We don’t know which phones will support the Snapdragon 845 chipset, and in turn support deep portrait selfies and Face ID, but almost all major phone makers did have the Snapdragon 835 chipset at the core of their hardware. The Samsung Galaxy S9 may be the first with the new 10nm silicon. 

Ready for Android Animoji?

You can also expect to see more 3D face-mapping on Android phones to match what we’ve seen from Apple’s Animoji feature.

Qualcomm’s new chipset has active depth-sensing and supports IR sensors for face-mapping. The company also talked up the security of its chip, noting that face-mapping security is of the utmost importance.

The Huawei-made Honor View 10 is already attempting to clone Animoji, but having the architecture in place on the chip is vital to improving performance and adoption of the next-generation of front-facing camera features.

  • We’re reporting live from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii, bringing you the latest news, features and hands on reviews on the future of smartphones, laptops, 5G and IoT. You can follow all our coverage here.

iPhone X answered: New Android phones will get ‘deep portrait’ and Face ID

The iPhone X has been out for a little more than a month and there are already plans to replicate its most unique features in high-end 2018 Android phones.

‘Deep portrait’ selfie photography and Face ID and Unlock will be supported by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset, which is likely to be in a majority of top Android phones next year.

This will enable bokeh-rich portrait photos from the selfie camera, which we’ve mainly seen on rear-facing cameras among Android phones. Blurring the background in your subject-focused selfies is much more compelling than selfie beauty mode and skin smoothing, which almost blurs… you.

And while Android handsets have had a primitive version of Face ID and Unlock, Qualcomm’s solution is being touted as a way to match Apple’s TrueDepth front-facing camera. It all needs to start at the System-on-a-Chip level.

We don’t know which phones will support the Snapdragon 845 chipset, and in turn support deep portrait selfies and Face ID, but almost all major phone makers did have the Snapdragon 835 chipset at the core of their hardware. The Samsung Galaxy S9 may be the first with the new 10nm silicon. 

Ready for Android Animoji?

You can also expect to see more 3D face mapping on Android phones to match what we’ve seen from Apple’s Animoji feature.

Qualcomm’s new chipset has active depth sensing and support IR sensors for face mapping. The company also talked up the security of its chip, noting that face mapping security is of the utmost importance.

The Huawei-made Honor View 10 is already attempting to clone Animoji, but having the architecture in place on the chip is vital to improving performance and adoption of the next-generation of front-facing camera features.

  • We’re reporting live from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii, bringing you the latest news, features and hands on reviews on the future of smartphones, laptops, 5G and IoT. You can follow all our coverage here.

iPhone X answered: New Android phones will get ‘deep portrait’ and Face ID

The iPhone X has been out for a little more than a month and there are already plans to replicate its most unique features in high-end 2018 Android phones.

‘Deep portrait’ selfie photography and Face ID and Unlock will be supported by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset, which is likely to be in a majority of top Android phones next year.

This will enable bokeh-rich portrait photos from the selfie camera, which we’ve mainly seen on rear-facing cameras among Android phones. Blurring the background in your subject-focused selfies is much more compelling than selfie beauty mode and skin smoothing, which almost blurs… you.

And while Android handsets have had a primitive version of Face ID and Unlock, Qualcomm’s solution is being touted as a way to match Apple’s TrueDepth front-facing camera. It all needs to start at the System-on-a-Chip level.

We don’t know which phones will support the Snapdragon 845 chipset, and in turn support deep portrait selfies and Face ID, but almost all major phone makers did have the Snapdragon 835 chipset at the core of their hardware. The Samsung Galaxy S9 may be the first with the new 10nm silicon. 

Ready for Android Animoji?

You can also expect to see more 3D face mapping on Android phones to match what we’ve seen from Apple’s Animoji feature.

Qualcomm’s new chipset has active depth sensing and support IR sensors for face mapping. The company also talked up the security of its chip, noting that face mapping security is of the utmost importance.

The Huawei-made Honor View 10 is already attempting to clone Animoji, but having the architecture in place on the chip is vital to improving performance and adoption of the next-generation of front-facing camera features.

  • We’re reporting live from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii, bringing you the latest news, features and hands on reviews on the future of smartphones, laptops, 5G and IoT. You can follow all our coverage here.

iPhone X answered: New Android phones will get ‘deep portrait’ and Face ID

The iPhone X has been out for a little more than a month and there are already plans to replicate its most unique features in high-end 2018 Android phones.

‘Deep portrait’ selfie photography and Face ID and Unlock will be supported by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset, which is likely to be in a majority of top Android phones next year.

This will enable bokeh-rich portrait photos from the selfie camera, which we’ve mainly seen on rear-facing cameras among Android phones. Blurring the background in your subject-focused selfies is much more compelling than selfie beauty mode and skin smoothing, which almost blurs… you.

And while Android handsets have had a primitive version of Face ID and Unlock, Qualcomm’s solution is being touted as a way to match Apple’s TrueDepth front-facing camera. It all needs to start at the System-on-a-Chip level.

We don’t know which phones will support the Snapdragon 845 chipset, and in turn support deep portrait selfies and Face ID, but almost all major phone makers did have the Snapdragon 835 chipset at the core of their hardware. The Samsung Galaxy S9 may be the first with the new 10nm silicon. 

Ready for Android Animoji?

You can also expect to see more 3D face mapping on Android phones to match what we’ve seen from Apple’s Animoji feature.

Qualcomm’s new chipset has active depth sensing and support IR sensors for face mapping. The company also talked up the security of its chip, noting that face mapping security is of the utmost importance.

The Huawei-made Honor View 10 is already attempting to clone Animoji, but having the architecture in place on the chip is vital to improving performance and adoption of the next-generation of front-facing camera features.

  • We’re reporting live from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii, bringing you the latest news, features and hands on reviews on the future of smartphones, laptops, 5G and IoT. You can follow all our coverage here.

Essential Camera app gets updated with portrait mode, reduced compression, and more

In spite of its fancy dual camera setup, the Essential Phone did not take great photos at the time of our review. Since then, Essential has been working hard on updating various aspects of the phone, including the camera software. Amidst Andy Rubin’s leave of absence, the company has just released a new version of its Essential Camera app that adds portrait mode, reduced compression, and some other things.

The highlight feature here is obviously portrait mode, which Essential probably added because many other flagships have some variant of it. Essential included this picture of a little dog taken using this new mode, and while the result isn’t perfect, it’s a start. Exposure compensation in all regular camera modes is also present, which is good since we did note that it tends to overexpose photos in our review. Also included are reduced JPEG compression, which should improve image quality, and some stability fixes.

This new version should be hitting the Play Store now, but if you can’t update through there, you can grab v0.1.0088 of the Essential Camera from APK Mirror. As someone who just ordered the phone during the Amazon Cyber Monday sale, I’m excited to see if this makes the camera more usable.

fcc3f_ai-ad3144a773645062d8943df3e7514a76 Essential Camera app gets updated with portrait mode, reduced compression, and more

Pixel 2 vs. iPhone X: Which does the best portrait selfie?

How much stronger does Portrait Mode make your selfie game, and which phone does it better?

Portrait Selfies are my favorite thing happening in smartphones right now. I can feel your eyes rolling as you read this, but hear me out for a moment. On a technical level, we’re seeing a massive push to improve the quality of the front-facing camera while applying depth maps and color correction so a photo can be instantly transformed into something new. It’s fascinating and fun, and in the early days of this feature existing on smartphones there are two massively different ways of creating this effect being used.

Apple’s True Depth camera features multiple sensors to create a depth map in real time on the iPhone X. Google’s solution relies entirely on machine learning and an impressive single camera to accomplish the same effect on the Pixel 2. Here’s a look at how these two methods compare!

e8236_pixel-portrait-selfie Pixel 2 vs. iPhone X: Which does the best portrait selfie?e8236_pixel-portrait-selfie Pixel 2 vs. iPhone X: Which does the best portrait selfie?

Left: Google Pixel 2 Right: Apple iPhone X

The first thing you need to understand when comparing these cameras is where Apple and Google are placing priority when it comes to the photos being produced. We know on a technical level these two phones have the best photo capabilities in the world right now, with the only read difference for most people being what parts of the photo and what features are taking priority.

In these shots, two things become quickly apparent. The background in the iPhone X shot is blown out in an attempt to make sure my face is well lit and properly colored. The background in the Pixel 2 shot is better balanced with the rest of the photo thanks to Google’s HDR+, but as a result, my face is noticeably darker and takes on a slightly reddish tint you don’t see in the other shot.

There are also substantial differences in that blurring effect used to create Portrait Selfies. Google’s software applies a more aggressive blur, and it makes imperfections in the depth map stand out quite a bit. It almost looks like a cut-out sticker of me has been applied to this photo. Apple’s blue is a little more natural looking right until you get to my hair and parts of me start to look a little out of focus. Neither shot really “nails” the picture due to their respective faults, but the flaws are subtle enough that you have a pair of fun photos.

Here’s another example, only this time it’s an outdoor shot zoomed in 100%.

e8236_pixel-portrait-selfie Pixel 2 vs. iPhone X: Which does the best portrait selfie?e8236_pixel-portrait-selfie Pixel 2 vs. iPhone X: Which does the best portrait selfie?

This pair of shots offers a lot of the same conclusions. Apple better lights my face, in particular, my eyes, while Google better lights the background and makes the whole photo feel richer. Apple’s blurring extends too deep into my hair and makes part of me look out of focus, while Google’s blur is so severe it actually edited out some of my hair that was sticking out of place. Without the Portrait Mode it’s clear the iPhone X took the better photo, but with that photo mode enabled it’s easier to appreciate the effect of Google’s software.

Apple and Google seem to be approaching this photo technique from opposing directions, and it seems likely what we’ll see in the not-too-distant future is some kind of meeting in the middle.

There are some natural limitations to both of these photo modes, especially in these early days. The iPhone X will flash warnings in Portrait Mode if the background is too bright or if objects in the background are too far away to grab a proper depth map. Google’s algorithm has a nasty habit of editing out corners of prescription glasses or objects in the foreground that aren’t attached to a person. There’s a bit of trial and error in getting both to work correctly, which in theory gets less frequent over time as Apple and Google continue to improve this tech.

The biggest thing Apple has over Google in this Portrait Mode right now has to be Portrait Lighting. Being able to see the possible edits to the photo in real time as you go to take the picture is a big deal, and the ability to continue editing Portrait Lighting after the photo has been taken is incredible. It’s a very hit-or-miss feature right now, especially when you start looking at Stage Lighting, but nothing but the iPhone has this right now.

When editing the photos, Google has something Apple currently doesn’t and probably should. When you take a Portrait Mode photo with a Pixel 2, you get a pair of photos. One photo is edited with the blurred areas, and the other is just a plain selfie with the front camera. This gives you the ability to edit both photos and see which you prefer. Apple keeps everything as a single photo, which in my opinion is a little less convenient to see edits between the two modes. On the other hand, it’s one fewer photo in your Camera Roll, so this is probably just personal preference.

e8236_pixel-portrait-selfie Pixel 2 vs. iPhone X: Which does the best portrait selfie?

There’s a lot to be said about the “right” way to take a photo, and even more to be said about the virtues of color accuracy and feature effectiveness. Apple and Google seem to be approaching this photo technique from opposing directions, and it seems likely what we’ll see in the not-too-distant future is some kind of meeting in the middle. Right now, it’s not immediately clear that Apple’s hardware-based approach is measurably better than Google’s software-based approach to Portrait Selfies. All of the things that make the iPhone X camera take a great selfie already exist on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. At the same time, it’s not clear how much better Google can make its photo editing software with a single camera and a lighting preference for the whole photo instead of the face.

One thing is absolutely clear — we’re nowhere near the end of Apple and Google giving us more and better selfie features.

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iPhone X: How to get the Best Shots with Portrait Mode’s Stage Light Effect

Holidays are a great time to take photos of your friends and family, and if you have an iPhone X those pics can really pop. Portrait Mode’s Stage Light effect is awesome for those memorable shots, especially if you take the time to set them up properly.

Stage Light is a Portrait Mode effect that cuts the background out a shot so only the subject is visible in the photo. When it works right you get your subject on a black background. The effect can be striking if you take a minute to plan out your shots before snapping photos.

4ecba_portrait-mode-bw iPhone X: How to get the Best Shots with Portrait Mode's Stage Light Effect

Portrait Mode’s Stage Light (left) and Stage Light Mono (right)

Stage Light and Stage Light Mono (the black and white version of Stage Light) are available in the Camera app’s Portrait Mode feature on the iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X. The iPhone X supports Portrait Mode for selfies with the front-facing camera, too.

Start with Stage Light

First, you need to know you’re going to use Stage Light before taking the photo because it’s an effect you can’t add later. After you launch the Camera app, swipe across the view finder until Portrait is selected. Next, swipe across the Portrait options at the bottom of the view finder to select Stage Light.

4ecba_portrait-mode-bw iPhone X: How to get the Best Shots with Portrait Mode's Stage Light Effect

Portrait Mode’s Stage Light view in the Camera app

Get the Lighting Right

You’d think bright lighting would work better for the Stage Light effect, but it turns out that’s not the case. If you’re indoors, don’t stand next to the lamp, and if you’re outdoors try to avoid direct sunlight. I’ve had much better luck with Stage Light photos indoors.

4ecba_portrait-mode-bw iPhone X: How to get the Best Shots with Portrait Mode's Stage Light Effect

When everything comes together Stage Light give you a great photo effect

One Person Per Photo

As awesome as it sounds, two people in a Stage Light shot is a bad idea. Apple’s filter is looking for a single face and will do its best to cut out the person it sees as less prominent. If you’re at a family event trying to include two people in the shot is pretty much a guarantee someone’s feelings are going to get hurt.

Pay Attention to the Background

Reflective surfaces behind your subject are a bad idea. Stage Light has a horrible time sorting out what should be in the shot and typically leaves background bits in or sometimes cuts part of the subject out. Windows proved to be particularly troublesome for me.

4ecba_portrait-mode-bw iPhone X: How to get the Best Shots with Portrait Mode's Stage Light Effect

A window in the background (left) will likely make for a poor Stage Light shot (right)

4ecba_portrait-mode-bw iPhone X: How to get the Best Shots with Portrait Mode's Stage Light Effect

A window in the background confuses the Stage Light effect

Avoid Moving Shots

If your subject is moving you won’t get a good Stage Light shot. They’ll be blurry at best, and may look like a Silly Putty sculpture, too. Get your subject to sit still for the shot. I know, good luck with the little kids and drunk uncles.

4ecba_portrait-mode-bw iPhone X: How to get the Best Shots with Portrait Mode's Stage Light Effect

Moving subjects don’t work with Stage Light in Portrait Mode

Patience is a Virtue

It takes a couple seconds for the Stage Light effect to process, so you need to take a photo, wait, and then you can take another. Watch the on screen shutter button. If it’s spinning, don’t snap another photo. I found snapping multiple photos quickly gave me the Stage Light effect only on the last shot.

Photo of Android Gets a Top Prize in Prestigious Portrait Contest

 Photo of Android Gets a Top Prize in Prestigious Portrait Contest

One of the world’s prestigious international portrait photography competitions has sparked a conversation about the nature of portrait photography after it awarded a top prize to a photo that doesn’t even show an actual human being: the portrait is of an android.

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery in the UK calls itself “the leading international photographic portrait competition” and says its mission is “celebrating and promoting the very best in contemporary portrait photography.”

This year’s winners were selected from 5,717 entries and were just announced this week. First place (and the £15,000 prize) was awarded to photographer César Dezfuli for his portrait of a migrant rescued in the Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast.

But the 3rd place photo is also attracting quite a bit of attention. Captured by Finnish photographer Maija Tammi, it shows a Japanese android (i.e. a robot designed to look like a human) named Erica.

Tammi’s photo was captured at an experimental laboratory in Osaka Japan, and her work is meant to explore the intersection between science and art.

“I had half an hour with Erica and a young researcher in which to take the photograph,” Tammi tells the BBC. “The researcher told me that Erica had said that she finds Pokemon Go scarier than artificial intelligence.”

Here’s what the judges had to say about the photo:

During the judging process, only the title of each portrait is revealed. It was unclear whether the girl was a human or an android, and this ambiguity made the portrait particularly compelling. Tammi’s portrait offers a provocative comment on human evolution.

Some people are naturally questioning how a photo of a robot managed to win a human portrait contest, especially given that the contest’s rules say that photos should portray “living” people.

“The photographs must be portraits,” the official rules state. “‘Portrait’ may be interpreted in its widest sense, of ‘photography concerned with portraying people with an emphasis on their identity as individuals’.

“All photographs must have been taken by the entrant from life and with a living sitter after 1 January 2016.”

In a statement to the BBC, the competition says that it acknowledges that the portrait broke the rules, but the organizers decided against disqualifying it:

The gallery has decided not to disqualify this portrait though accepts it is in breach of the rules. The rules are reviewed every year and this issue will be taken into consideration for next year.

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is dedicated to showcasing the best in contemporary portraiture.

“There are occasions when particularly compelling portraits raise interesting questions about the genre of portraiture, and these may be included at the judges’ discretion.

Should this android photo qualify for portrait competitions?

Tammi’s photo and 58 others will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery through February 8, 2018.

(via Quartz via DIYP)

Robot joins Shakespeare, Darwin in UK’s National Portrait Gallery

Among the portraits of historically significant British figures hanging in London’s National Portrait Gallery, visitors will see William Shakespeare, King Edward VI, Charles Darwin and Virginia Woolf. Soon, they’ll also see Erica the humanoid robot.

90589_maija-tammi Robot joins Shakespeare, Darwin in UK's National Portrait Gallery


Maija Tammi

Erica is neither British, nor, needless to say, is she human. But the picture of the stunningly lifelike Japanese bot just won an award in an international photographic portrait competition, and that earns it time in the prestigious museum.

First place in the contest for Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize went to a photo of a migrant teen rescued from the Mediterranean Sea while trying to escape his native Mali. Second went to an image of a women staring out the window of a bus outside a displaced persons camp in Iraq. Third went to a photo of a talking robot who can also blink, tilt her head and express “emotions” via actuators under her dewy silicone skin.  

One of these things is not like the others, though in a short documentary on Erica from earlier this year, her creator, Osaka University Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, called her “the most beautiful and most humanlike autonomous robot in the world.” 

In photographer Maija Tammi‘s picture of the bot, titled “One of Them Is a Human #1,” Erica wears a collared shirt and blazer. She has a slight smile on her face, and her shiny auburn hair falls just below her shoulders.  

During deliberations for the Taylor Wessing prize, the six judges saw only the title of each portrait, so they couldn’t be sure whether the shot of Erica, part of a series of android portraits by Tammi, showed a human or a humanoid. 

“It was unclear whether the girl was a human or an android, and this ambiguity made the portrait particularly compelling,” reads a statement from the judges. “Tammi’s portrait offers a provocative comment on human evolution.”

Though rules for the Taylor Wessing contest call for portraits “taken by the entrant from life and with a living sitter,” the judges clearly saw Erica as a timely symbol of the increasingly blurred line between humans and machines.  

“I wanted to question what it is to be human and what it is to be alive,” Tammi, a photojournalist currently working toward a Ph.D. in art photography at Finland’s Aalto University, says in an artist’s statement.  

The 59 winning images will be featured at the National Portrait Gallery from Saturday through Feb. 8. Many will be on display for the first time. 

Crowd ControlA crowdsourced science fiction novel written by CNET readers.

Solving for XXThe tech industry seeks to overcome outdated ideas about “women in tech.”

iPhone X Portrait Lighting Versus Real Studio Lighting

The new iPhone X has a number of Portrait Lighting looks that allow users to “fake” professional lighting styles. Here’s a 4-minute video by photographer Daniel DeArco that compares the iPhone X’s Portrait Lighting with the real studio lighting setups they’re designed to mimic.

All the images in these comparisons are taken with the iPhone X, with those on the left having been shot with the digital lighting modes. On the right are images shot with the iPhone X without any of the digital lighting enabled, but instead with the lighting replicated with a real lighting rig.

Here are the comparisons of the different digital lighting modes of the iPhone X:

Natural Light

 iPhone X Portrait Lighting Versus Real Studio Lighting

 iPhone X Portrait Lighting Versus Real Studio Lighting

Studio Light

 iPhone X Portrait Lighting Versus Real Studio Lighting

 iPhone X Portrait Lighting Versus Real Studio Lighting

Contour Light

 iPhone X Portrait Lighting Versus Real Studio Lighting

 iPhone X Portrait Lighting Versus Real Studio Lighting

Stage Light

 iPhone X Portrait Lighting Versus Real Studio Lighting

 iPhone X Portrait Lighting Versus Real Studio Lighting

Stage Light (Mono)

 iPhone X Portrait Lighting Versus Real Studio Lighting

 iPhone X Portrait Lighting Versus Real Studio Lighting

“At this point the Apple Portrait Lighting doesn’t replace professional lighting quality, but it’s still a fun gimmick to use,” DeArco concludes. “We think that the results are pretty good.”

Check out the full video above to see the shoot in action. You can also find more of DeArco’s videos by subscribing to his channel on YouTube.

Photographer pits iPhone X Portrait Lighting against real studio lighting [Video]

Alongside the introduction of the iPhone 8 Plus and X this fall, Apple introduced Portrait Lighting, a camera effect designed to simulate specific lighting conditions normally only found in a studio environment. These lighting effects, combined with the background-softening depth effect introduced wth the iPhone 7 Plus, are designed to make shooting professional looking portraits easy.

Putting this claim to the test, photographer Daniel DeArco used an iPhone X to compare the results Portrait Lighting to actual studio lighting in a comparison video.


b5c72_tweetbot Photographer pits iPhone X Portrait Lighting against real studio lighting [Video]

Tweetbot For iOS

9to5Mac’s Jordan Kahn noted in his review of the iPhone 8 Plus that while Portrait Lighting worked well, it is still somewhat limited. DeArco came to a similar conclusion with Portrait Lighting on the iPhone X, finding that side by side, the effects did typically make for a better photo, but were unsurpsingly still no comparison to a studio full of equipment.

The iPhone X’s camera has had its feet held to the fire in the week following its release, scoring a 97 on DxOMark, and going head-to-head against a professional mirrorless camera. A short film has also been filmed entirely with the phone.

Apple has provided their own tips for those looking to shoot better photos with Portrait Lighting on the iPhone X and 8 Plus. Have you used Portrait Lighting? How well has the feature worked for you? Let us know in the comments, and watch the full comparison video below.




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