Apple has released the iOS 10.1 Beta to developers, which will be followed by a public beta in the coming weeks. The highlight of this beta is the inclusion of the new Portrait ‘Bokeh’ feature that was demoed at Apple’s September event.

The feature, which creates artistic bokeh around subjects in portrait mode, leverages the iPhone 7 Plus’ dual-camera to get the bokeh effect. The feature will not make it to any other iDevice. It wasn’t available on the iPhone 7 Plus at launch, but will be with the official version of iOS 10.1.

As Apple explains, this Portrait mode on the iPhone 7 Plus will use the phone’s rear cameras to generate a 9-layer depth map. The image itself is taken with the 56mm lens (in 35mm equivalence) and the wide angle lens gathers depth-of-field information.

The layers with the subject in sharp focus are kept as is and the rest of the layers are blurred. TechCrunch, which performed a detailed analysis of the system, explains that the iPhone’s image processor adds an increasing amount of blur to layers that are further away from the subject. Face recognition is used to identify the subject.

The effect is visible in real-time, so you can preview the effect before snapping a portrait. TechCrunch suggests that this happens at around 24fps and that the lag when taking a photo in this mode is about 600-650ms.

Those who’ve tried it report that the feature works amazingly well in some situations and horribly in others. It apparently works best in good light at a certain distance from the subject. It also apparently has trouble with fine lines, motion and leaves.

The feature is still in beta of course, so it’s likely that these issues will be sorted out in time.

Publish date: September 22, 2016 1:32 pm| Modified date: September 22, 2016 1:32 pm

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