Hands on with Halide, a new gesture-based iPhone camera app
What do you get when a former Apple designer and a former Twitter developer combine forces? You get Halide — a brand new gesture-based iPhone camera app designed for those who want more control over the picture-taking process.
Designed by Sebastiaan de With, developed by Ben Sandofsky, and released yesterday, Halide — a name reminiscent of film-based photographic processes — is designed with the aim that anyone from an amateur to a pro can achieve advanced results with minimal effort.
Advanced apps like Camera+, ProCam, and ProShot offer vast shooting flexibility and go beyond the basics provided by Apple's stock Camera app, but come with a higher learning curve. Unless you use such apps consistently, it’s hard to remember the location of various controls for a quick shot. In urgent situations, many shooters resort to the app they know best — the default Camera.
Halide aims to be the ideal, elegant middle ground between 'too simple' and 'airplane cockpit,' peacefully co-existing with the iPhone's default Camera app and perhaps occupying at least some of the same muscle memory space.
|Halide lets you compose your shot in portrait or landscape orientation.|
Halide starts out shooting in smart auto mode, but a single tap calls up a manual mode where you can adjust ISO, shutter speed and white balance. The same gestures you use with the iPhone’s native camera work for Halide, though with some variations. The zoom gesture, for example, does not work for some handset models, but instead adjusts exposure, which is similar to the original Camera app’s vertical swipe gesture.
|Toggle controls let you switch between automatic and manual settings, and the grid lights up when the camera is level. Tap focusing also works.|
Moreover, Halide’s sole concentration on shooting still photos gives it wider latitude within that narrow task. Halide doesn’t do panoramas, video or other special effects like HDR, but it does give you an optional, real-time live histogram, Raw capture and a friendly visual interface. It's not an editor, so you can’t use it to open a photo from your Camera Roll.
Halide focuses on three major points of interest: tactile controls, focus peaking and instant review. Smart Auto picks your ISO and shutter speeds while an EV feature lets you flick up or down to adjust exposure. Focus peaking automatically highlights in red the sharpest areas in the scene. You can enable an optional overlay grid that doubles as a level – the center tile glows when your camera is level – to help align your shot.
|Automatic and manual focus and focus peaking.|
Controls at the bottom of the interface let you tap to switch between auto and manual focus, as a toggle evokes focus peaking. You can also tap to focus. Finally, you can choose to shoot JPEG or Raw and customize which controls appear on screen.
When you’re ready to check out your shots, Halide lets you view your recent captures via 3D touch and quickly swipe left or right to either favorite your picks or discard rejects.
Halide runs on iPhone 5 and above — essentially any iPhone that can run iOS 10, but it works a little differently, depending on which device you own. The iPhone 6s and up supports both the real-time histogram and focus peaking. The test sample shots in this story are from an iPhone 6s.
|The single layer of controls at the top are customizable. View, save or discard shots right away.|
Halide is available from the App Store now at a discounted price of $2.99. It is available in English, with Spanish, Dutch, German, and French localizations in progress. On June 6, the price goes up to $4.99. There are no plans for an Android version at this time.
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