Introducing Phoreal – get your iOS 7 filters back


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One of the features of iOS 7 that I really like is the new filters in the camera and photos apps. With a choice of Mono, Tonal, Noir, Fade, Chrome, Process, Transfer and Instant and the new square format, you can create some really great looking pictures.

The way iOS 7 applies these filters to the photos is clever. Rather than simply computing the output of applying the filter to the image and storing the result, iOS 7 saves a bunch of meta data about which filter was selected and what (if any) cropping has been done along with the original image.

Then, when you view the pictures in the camera app, share them via social media or send them by email, iOS 7 applies the relevant filters and crops in real time. Our phones are that fast now that they can do image processing on the fly.

This also means that if you change your mind later and decide that Tonal is more appropriate than Noir for dramatising your architecture shots, you can simply change the filter.

The whole process is non destructive. You can chop and change filters and crops to your heart’s content because the original image is always preserved.

In typical Apple fashion, for a huge majority of typical use cases, this just works. And it works flawlessly and transparently. If you’re not in the majority though, you may find that it causes issues for your atypical workflow.

In my case, for instance, I went crazy for square format black and white, and ended up with more than 900 photos shot that way before I realised that when I was syncing them back to iPhoto on my Mac, I was ending up with the originals with no filters applied.

If your photo workflow involves a step where you sync your images back to a Mac,PC or cloud service you’ve probably noticed the same thing. You’re ending up with copies of the original image with no filter applied.

This is the problem I wrote Phoreal to solve. Phoreal reads the meta data that iOS 7 stores, applies your selected filter and crops, and saves a copy of the resulting image back your camera roll. The images that Phoreal outputs can then be synced to your Mac, PC or cloud data service in all their filtered glory.




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