The iPhone XS and iPhone XR have a brand new feature. After you click a Portrait Mode photo, you can go into the Edit menu and change the intensity of the bokeh. Basically, you can change the background blur (make it softer or more pronounced) after you’ve already clicked the photo. Apple is touting this as one of the best new features in iPhone XS. But you can get it on iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus and even the iPhone 7 Plus using a third party app.
The new depth effect sensor in iPhone XS blurs photos different parts of the background at a different rate. So the effect you get is similar to that on DSLR. This is not the same as what phones like Pixel 2 do.
Since the app in question requires depth data to work, it will not work on iPhones with a single camera at the rear like the iPhone 6, iPhone 7, or the iPhone 8.
How to Edit Background Blur in Photos on iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone 7 Plus
The app in question is called Focos and we’re big fans of the app. The app made it to our best iPhone X apps roundup and our best Camera apps roundup as well. And for good reason. Focos solved one of the most frustrating things about clicking photos in Portrait mode. iPhone would almost always mess up the blur in the resulting image (even though it looked fine in the live view).
Portrait mode has trouble dealing with ears, glasses and smooth edges. Focos allows you to not only edit the intensity of the blur effect but to change the focus point itself. So you can go into a photo and choose to focus on a subject that’s farther away and Focos will adjust the depth effect accordingly. The app is shockingly good at what it does. And you can get the basic functionality for free.
Here’s how it works. After you install the app, just open it. You’ll see the camera view on the top and below, you’ll find a grid of your Portrait Mode images. Tap on an image and it will open up in edit view.
You’ll see a slider below the image. Just slide it to the left to decrease the blur intensity and to the right to increase it. And that’s it, you’ve just changed the background blur! The app uses depth data from the photo itself so even if you increase the blur all the way, the edges won’t be blurred a lot.
Focos lets you change the aperture size (the blur intensity) from f/20 to f/1.4 (iPhone XS, on the other hand, has the range of f/16 to f/1.4). Tap on the Shape option and you can even change the shape of the blur effect. You can view the bokeh effect in 3 and even manually change the front and back bokeh limits. There’s a tool to edit lighting in 3D space as well.
That’s what you can do in the free app, and for most users, that’s more than enough.
But if you want to access more features like specialized lenses and highlights, you can pay $0.99/month to unlock app features.
What’s Your iPhone Photography Workflow?
Do you use a third party app for clicking photos on your iPhone? Do you use Snapseed or Darkroom to edit photos? Share with us in the comments below.