The touchscreen camera interface gets an upgrade with Halide, a new iOS app

halide launches in app store redwoods

Features like 3D touch and gesture control have changed how smartphones operate, but despite the changes, native camera controls have remained largely static. That’s what Halide, a new premium iOS photography app launched on May 30, hopes to change by bringing gesture controls and advanced settings to the iPhone.

While the App Store includes dozens of photography apps with manual controls, Halide aims to enhance the experience with a user interface that feels more reminiscent of physical camera controls, developers Ben Sandofsky, former Twitter tech lead, and Sebastiaan de With, an ex-Apple designer and photographer, said. The project came after Sandofsky and de With saw that while the quality of smartphone cameras continued to improve, the interface remained largely unchanged.

“Nothing matched the pleasure of using a well-built camera,” said De With. “Halide aims to fix that.”

The app’s gesture-based interface uses customizable gesture controls, allowing users to use gestures instead of only single taps to control aspects like exposure and focus. When reviewing photos, images can quickly be deleted or flagged as a favorite with a swipe.

While the developers say Halide is designed around a gesture-based interface, the app includes a long list of advanced features as well. The app switches between an intelligent auto mode and manual controls in a tap. Manual focus is included, too, with a focus-peaking feature that highlights whatever is in focus in red, simplifying the task of focusing manually with an iPhone.

The app captures RAW or JPEG files, while users can check the shot with a histogram, grid overlay and built-in level. The app focuses on still photos, with no video or Live Photo options.

Sandofsky, who previously worked with Periscope’s video stack, and de With, a part-time travel photographer, say that Halide’s control system becomes like “muscle memory” with easy access without hunting through menus for all the features.

During launch week, Halide is available as a $3 download from the App Store, moving up to $5 on June 6. The app is compatible with iOS 10 and later. The histogram, focus peaking and RAW shooting features require an iPhone 6S or later.