Straighten up: Instagram using phone’s sensors to help end tilting troubles

Slanted, crooked, tilted photos are never a good look, unless your masterpiece is supposed to be that way, in which case it’s a fabulous look that perfectly reflects your artistic intentions.

But it’s probably to fair to say that in most cases you want your photo to be straight, right? Slightly ‘off’ images could be the result of simply failing to notice the tilt when you hit the shutter button, standing on a sloping surface or, quite possibly, having had one too many down the bar. There’s a grid you can pull up to help keep the shot straight, but either people aren’t using it or it’s just not effective when they do.instagram straighten

In an effort to help Instagram users post photos exactly how they want them to be (ie. straight), the media-sharing service recently added a straighten button to its iOS app. Presumably Android users won’t have to wait too long get the same feature. It lets you straighten a photo with a single tap, though you can also fine tune it manually with a slider.

Of course, such a feature also means you have one less reason to use another app to snap and then edit a photo before importing it into Instagram. By adding some simple editing tools, Instagram hopes you’ll do everything within its app rather than someone else’s.

Instagram’s Alex Restrepo has decided to shed a little light on the new feature, posting a piece on its Engineering blog on Monday.

Restrepo points out that the Facebook-owned company had been discussing a straightening tool “even before we started working on video”, saying that its early efforts focused on manual correction only, a method developers felt didn’t fit in with the simplicity of Instagram.

Some bright spark in the team then came up with the idea of using the smartphone’s sensors to allow for one-tap correction.

“Most phones have a variety of sensors that allow us to determine the orientation and tilt of the device relative to a specific reference, meaning we can tell the angle of your phone at the time you took the picture,” Restrepo explains in his post.

“In order to correct the angle, we rotate the photo by the opposite of the angle in which you held your device. Once the auto correction is applied, you can fine-tune the results using the feature’s UI.”

instagram straightening

When you enter the straightening mode, you’ll see the photo straighten automatically in an animated way.

“This animation turned out to be a very important piece of the puzzle as it helps the user understand what is happening to the photo,” Restrepo says. “When we first tried the animation it was almost a ‘eureka’ moment; it made the feature appear magical, while easily explaining all the different pieces at play in the interface.”

Alternatively you can turn the image using one-finger or two-finger rotation, or, for super-fine tuning, tap on the edge of the wheel to rotate it by 0.1 degree increments

To eliminate blank areas in the corners of your photo following straightening, the software zooms in slightly on the image.

If some of your images are a bit on the crooked side and need straightening, the new feature should do the trick. We think you’ll agree that the developers have succeeded in their goal to create something that is not only simple to use, but also performs effectively.

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