Archive for February 28, 2019

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Spectre Camera 1.0

Sebastiaan de With (MacRumors):

Spectre is a computational shutter for iPhone that allows everyone to take brilliant long exposures.


By default, Spectre uses AI to analyze the scene and automatically pick the appropriate mode. If you’re shooting a beach scene, it will blend shots for great smooth water. A lively cityscape triggers light trails blending.


Long exposures typically requires setting up a tripod and meticulously stabilizing your camera: but don’t fret, Spectre requires no extra equipment. Spectre’s AI stabilizes your shot for you, allowing up to 9-second long handheld long exposures.

Previously: Halide: One Year Later.

Update (2019-03-05): Nick Heer:

The thing I like most about this app is how easy it makes long exposure photography. It has never been particularly difficult — I think it’s one of the first things people try their hand at when they discover how to change their camera’s shutter speed — but Spectre makes it far simpler. You can even do long exposures in bright daylight without mucking around with shutter speed and ISO.

This is one of those apps that, I think, is worth having around even if you use it rarely.

Ryan Jones:

Spectre is still cruuuuuising at #1 Paid App. I did not expect that, it’s very niche. Due to design?

Based on the little I know and correct me if I wrong but #1 Paid is ~$20k/day?

= $100k over 5 days

Update (2019-03-06): Ryan Jones:

Spectre went from $1.99 → $2.99 and probably ~doubled their revenue.

Went from Top Grossing #1,000 to #500. That kinda stings, should have been $2.99 all along probably.

Previously: Raising Prices Lifted App Revenue.

Update (2019-04-02): Ben Sandofsky:

People use Halide for manual control, but once the shutter switches from hardware to software, you lose that control. For example, RAW no longer works. (We’ll go into this and other issues in part 3 of this series).

Even if users would make those concessions, dialing in the right settings requires a lot of trial and error. We’d need a new mode with extra buttons and dials. We were on a path that would compromise Halide’s streamlined experience. There’s a fine line between generosity and bloat.

This got us thinking, “What if we build another app?”

Update (2019-04-12): Sebastiaan de With:

I love this aspect of long exposures on cameras, so I really wanted maintain the delight of selecting an exposure time and the corresponding satisfaction of the tactile camera controls. Having an unlimited or huge amount of exposure times would add incredible complexity to the app, though.

In early tests, we simply limited it to three options. We even named them Short, Medium, and Long (S, M, L) — but eventually decided to maintain the camera metaphor by showing the actual exposure times of 3, 5 and 9 seconds.


Unfortunately, making you choose between modes greatly complicates the experience. Most people — including me, a ‘serious’ photographer — would be happier if the camera simply did the right thing and made the choice for them. Until very recently, that notion was a laughable fiction.

Enter Machine Learning. We trained a neural network to recognize situations that generate beautiful light trails, such as such as fireworks, light painting and city streets — just to see how feasible it would be as a method to greatly simplify the user experience.

EFF Calls on Apple to Let Users Encrypt iCloud Backups

Electronic Frontier Foundation (via MacRumors):

Today we are announcing Fix It Already, a new way to show companies we’re serious about the big security and privacy issues they need to fix. We are demanding fixes for different issues from nine tech companies and platforms, targeting social media companies, operating systems, and enterprise platforms on issues ranging from encryption design to retention policies.

Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Data on your Apple device is encrypted so that no one but you can access it, and that’s great for user privacy. But when data is backed up to iCloud, it’s encrypted so that Apple, and not just the user, can access it. That makes those backups vulnerable to government requests, third-party hacking, and disclosure by Apple employees. Apple should let users protect themselves and choose truly encrypted iCloud backups.


Safari’s Unified Address/Search Bar

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Safari’s unified address/search bar still infuriates me, years later. So many times a day I get incorrect autocompletes because it performs the wrong function, and not just once, but two or three times as I go to correct it. Hate this interaction so much

Eli Block:

Then you try to copy the URL and get the last search text you used 😂

James Thomson:

By default, I always type a space after something I want to search for, to stop Safari trying to guess what I actually want to do...

Gabe Salkin:

Worse yet is when it arbitrarily decides to parse a complete URL as a search query!


wait, so its not just me? I end up prefixing with a . or g because it either jumps my search term to a Siri suggestions website or decides the search term is a malformed web address and throws an error

We Need Chrome No More

Reda Lemeden:

Within two years, Chrome accounted for 15% of all Web traffic on desktop—for comparison, it took Firefox 6 years to get there. Google managed to deliver a fast, thoughtfully designed browser that was an instant hit among users and Web developers alike. Their product innovation and engineering prowess was a breath of fresh air, and their commitment to open-source was the cherry on top. Over the years, Google‘s adoption of Web standards continued to set the example.


The dominance of Chrome has a major detrimental effect on the Web as an open platform: developers are increasingly shunning other browsers in their testing and bug-fixing routines. If it works as intended on Chrome, it’s ready to ship. This in turn results in more users flocking to the browser as their favorite Web sites and apps no longer work elsewhere, making developers less likely to spend time testing on other browsers. A vicious cycle that, if not broken, will result in most other browsers disappearing in the oblivion of irrelevance. And that’s exactly how you suffocate the open Web.

Previously: Microsoft EdgeHTML Replaced by Chromium.