Introducing Spectre

Sebastiaan de With
Feb 28, 2019
4 min read

We’re excited to announce Spectre, our second app for iPhone.

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

A regular photo captures only a fraction of a second. Taking a photo over several seconds — a long exposure—unlocks all sorts of practical and artistic effects.

Make a bridge at rush hour look perfectly empty:

You no longer have to get up at the crack of dawn to photograph busy tourist spots:

Walk past colored lights to create a beautiful flow of color:

And much more: play with light sticks and fireworks to create magical images. Turn highways into rivers of light, and water into a dreamlike painting.

The only problem is that long exposures are kind of rocket science. You have to stabilize your camera with a tripod, take several shots to confirm a composition, guess the correct exposure over a long period of time, and hope for the best.

Spectre solves all of that, with the help of machine learning and computer vision.

The Computational Shutter

A traditional shutter takes a single photo over a long period of time, collecting light to create a singular final image.

Spectre reimagines long exposures: its intelligent shutter takes hundreds of photos during the exposure time and merges the result. That means you don’t just get a final still image, but also a video of the entire exposure as it happened.

You can now share your long exposure as a video or a photo — it’s entirely up to you.

Best of all, we save your capture as one shot: the images Spectre captures are stored as a Live Photo.

The Live Photo format also allows minute adjustment of the image afterwards. Like any Live Photo, you can easily choose a different key image within Apple Photos, apply Live Photo effects, and more.

The Apple Photos Editor

Using AI for magic photography

We wanted to build an app where anyone could press a button and magically get an incredible shot.

To get that kind of magic, we turned to AI.

Scene Recognition

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.

Image Stabilization

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.

We also include a stability indicator, tied to your device accelerometer.

Spectre Complements Halide

Things have stayed relatively constant in photography for the last century, and we look forward to how computational photography can transform the field. Spectre 1.0 is just the beginning.

Earlier this month we brought Spectre technology to Halide’s Smart RAW. Halide became the first iPhone camera that uses machine learning to optimize the dynamic range and noise level in your RAW photos.

Halide is about building the most powerful interface for your iPhone camera. We’re passionate photographers, and we built an app that could replicate the experience of a professional camera. We wanted an app that “got out of the way,” so there’s nothing between you and the perfect photo. We’ll always take a thoughtful, measured approach to its intelligence, so you never lose the control you’ve come to expect.

Thank You

Besides the technology we are releasing today, we’re incredibly excited for the sheer creative potential of Spectre. When we first started work on Halide two years ago, we could’ve never dreamt of what we have achieved. We’re very happy to spend our time building great tools for discerning photography lovers.

Thank you for being such a dedicated and wonderful community of users. We can’t wait to see what you create with it.

You can get Spectre now for just $1,99 in the App Store.

This is our limited-time launch pricing, so act fast — the price will go up soon.