Entries tagged as iOS 8

Low-light photo on iPhone 6 Plus is broken

Previewing the scene at ISO 2000 and 1/2s shutter speed

Apple introduced low-light photo mode on iPhone 5, enabling the device to boost the ISO to 3200 in order to take brighter photos in the dark. The quality was obviously grainy, but at least you would be taking a recognizable photo. Default camera app would slow the shutter speed down only to 1/15s, while 3rd party apps that could go into "night mode" could do 1/4s to 1s depending on the model, brightening the photo even further.

With the introduction of the Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) in iPhone 6 Plus, even the default camera app could slow down to 1/4s shutter speed because the OIS was expected to compensate. As I confirmed in my review, this definitely helped enhancing the low-light photo quality. But I came to notice a strange behaviour after trying to take a lot of photos in dark places.

In a really dark place, iPhone 6 Plus camera maxes out at ISO 2000 and 1/2 seconds, as you can see here. You can either set this manually if the camera app supports iOS 8 API, or automatically if the app supports the night mode. The ProCamera 8 app that I used has both modes. After noting the brightness of the objects in the preview screen, I took a snapshot.

Actual photo is taken at ISO 500 and 1/4s shutter speed

But the photo came out quite darker than the preview. To see why, I checked the EXIF data. It showed that the camera limited itself to ISO 500 and 1/4s shutter speed instead of the ISO 2000 and 1/2s setting that I set. To see if the high ISO mode wasn't working, I manually set the ISO to 2000 in a brighter room, resulting in a much faster shutter speed. The camera had no problem obeying the ISO setting in this case. Then I tried the ISO 500 and 1/8s setting to take a photo in the dark. The result was that the actual settings decided by the camera was ISO 250 and 1/4s.

It seems that, when the camera feels that it's in a low-light environment, it automatically decreases the shutter speed to 1/4 seconds and use as low ISO as possible, and only up to 500. The manual settings are overridden. Most camera apps in the App Store that support manual settings or night mode seem to be affected by this. I've seen the same problem in VSCO Cam, Manually - Manual Focus Camera, and ProShot, so it's definitely not a bug in the individual app.

I've checked for this problem with the other iPhone 6 Plus units and they exhibited the same behaviour, while the iPhone 5S did not have this problem. I'm suspecting that the OIS function that allowed the 1/4s shutter speed in the default mode may be the culprit. I've filed a bug report to Apple. The issue has been observed in iOS 8.0, 8.0.2, 8.1, and 8.1.1 beta.

P.S. If you do need to take low-light photos on the iPhone 6 Plus right now, there is one series of apps that seem to be either unaffected by or circumventing this problem that you can use - NightCap (both regular and Pro versions).
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Shooting the Moon through binoculars

Binoculars help iPhone take this Moon photo

With iOS 8, apps can now provide individual manual control of ISO, shutter speed, focus, exposure, and white balance using public API. Apps that take advantage of this can bring fine-grained control of the cameras on the iPhone, a much sought feature by the users especially since iPhone's cameras perform so well. Now, there's a bit of problem with low light mode in iPhone 6 Plus, but that's another story.

The story here is that I used the iPhone 6 Plus camera on manual settings to take a photo of the Moon that's showing through a pair of Bushnell Birding Series 8x40 binoculars. Without them, the Moon would have come out as a tiny blob about 25 pixels wide. I held up the phone to the ocular lens by hand. It's not as impressive as the 50x zoom photos that my Canon SX50 HS can take, but it give me hope that some low-magnification astrophotography could be done with my iPhone with some clever apps and a clamp that can fix the phone to the binoculars.

Device: iPhone 6 Plus & Bushnell Birding Series 8x40
Settings : 29mm - ISO 50 - 1/125s - f/2.2
Filters: None
Time : 2014-11-03 01:34 KST
Location: Naju, Korea

An attempt to use Apple Pay outside USA

Passbook app on iPhone 6 Plus shows Apple Pay option

iOS 8.1 update went live early morning today (in Korea Standard Time). This brings a lot of improvements and fixes, but also enables Apple Pay function for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. In the Passbook app, a new option to add cards to work with Apple Pay is supposed to show up.

Unfortunately, this is only available for the people in the United States at the moment. In fact, if you're using iPhone 6 series outside of the US, it is highly likely that the Passbook app will not show the Apple Pay option at all, as if the function does not exist. This was probably to prevent any confusion about the function that won't currently work in the user's region.

Of course, there's an easy way to force the Apple Pay option to show up if it doesn't. Go to Settings app, and under General > Language and Region > Region Format, set the region to United States. Once you've done that, the Passbook will show the Apple Pay option. You do not have to reboot, or tweak any other settings. As you can see, I'm on a Korean mobile carrier (SKT), the language setting is in Korean, and iTunes and iCloud are all logged into my Korean account.

My credit card can't be added, though

Once you're able to go into the Apple Pay settings, you can try to add the credit card that you have on your hand. The iPhone will be able to recognize the card number via camera, as well. Once the card number, expiration date, and verification number are put, Apple will try to check to see if it'll work with Apple Pay. Unfortunately, the check will fail like this if the card issuer isn't participating.

As of this writing, credit and debit cards issued by nine US-based banks will work and nothing else. Further roll-out seems to be US-only in the near future. If you do have an eligible card, you can add to the Passbook app and make payments on any NFC-enabled card processor, including vending machines.
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Summary of iPhone 6 Plus reviews

For nearly a month, I've been using my iPhone 6 Plus every day. As one of the first users of such device in Korea, I decided to take an in-depth look at its improvements and functions whenever I can, to show what the Korean users are going to get soon. Now all the hard work is done, and I present to you the summary of all the reviews I wrote about it.

iPhone 6 series will finally launch in Korea officially on October 31, 2014, according to Apple's official announcement, and carriers are preparing to accept pre-orders about a week before that. I hope these reviews will help you decide if iPhone 6 Plus is right for you.

Preview Summary
0. One of the first iPhone 6 Plus in Korea (2014-09-19)
Wesley gets his iPhone 6 Plus on the first launch day in Japan and brings it to Korea.
1. iPhone 6 Plus - Unboxing & First Look (2014-09-22)
The box containing the iPhone 6 Plus is opened up, and the phone is taken an all-around look. The bump caused by the camera lens is also examined.
2. Protecting my iPhone 6 Plus (2014-09-23)
Front and back side protection films are applied to the iPhone 6 Plus. Then, it is put inside a belt case intended for Galaxy Note series. Apple's own leather case is also tried out.
3. Sizing up the shape & size of iPhone 6 Plus (2014-09-23)
The size, thickness, and shape of the iPhone 6 Plus gets compared to other devices. It is first compared to other iPhones and iPads, then to a comparatively-sized Android smartphone.
4. iPhone 6 Plus - LTE Compatibility & Speed (2014-09-24)
Unlocked iPhone 6 Plus bought overseas is found to have LTE working on Korea's SKT & KT networks automatically. Also, real life LTE speed comparison is made between the 6 Plus and the 5S.
5. iPhone 6 Plus - VoLTE Compatibility (2014-09-25)
Initially, all calls were made in 3G mode despite changing the settings to allow VoLTE. To have the VoLTE actually working, a visit to an SKT branch office and a device registration process was needed.
6. Testing iPhone 6 Plus battery w/o bending (2014-09-29)
Real-life battery discharging and charging tests are performed simultaneously on iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 5S to see the difference. Belt cases made sure the phones didn't bend.
7. iPhone 6 Plus - General Performance (2014-10-01)
Performance comparison across multiple apps are made between iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 5S. This included 3DMark, Geekbench, and various JavaScript tests.
8. iPhone 6 Plus - Camera's Quality (2014-10-01)
Compared to iPhone 5S, the camera on the iPhone 6 Plus has improved dynamic range and enhanced night time photography performance. Image stabilization works well, too.
9. iPhone 6 Plus - Camera's Speed (2014-10-04)
The focusing performance of the iPhone 6 Plus is noticeably more advanced than iPhone 5S. Burst mode shooting and slow-motion video recording also saw improvements.
10. iPhone 6 Plus - M8 Motion Co-processor (2014-10-08)
The M8 motion co-processor and its new barometer are tested out by walking up the stairs and seeing how many floors are registered. Other uses are also taken a look at.
11. How far does iPhone 6+ & SKT's VoLTE go? (2014-10-13)
How the SK Telecom's network treats the attempts to make a VoLTE call from iPhone 6 Plus varies by how the person at the other end is connecting. All the possibilities are tested.
12. Thoughts on a month of iPhone 6 Plus use (2014-10-14)
Using the iPhone 6 Plus one-handed is not as convenient as Apple would hope. However, the big screen that caused this also offers many benefits that maybe considered as worthy trade-offs.

iPhone 6 Plus - M8 Motion Co-processor

iOS 8's Health app shows the stair climbing recorded by iPhone 6 Plus

Last year, iPhone 5S came with a motion co-processor called M7 that can collect various sensor data relating to iPhone's motion. The most notable use for this was recording how many steps a user took while carrying the device. In other words, the device acted as a pedometer. This year, iPhone 6 series has updated the co-processor to M8 and added another sensor - a barometer. The Health app that comes with iOS 8 makes an immediate use of this. It records how many floors the user has climbed, adding another dimension of knowledge to the user's movement.

Argus widget on iPhone 5S (left) and iPhone 6 Plus (right)

Apps that are updated to use the Healthkit in iOS 8, such as Argus, can read this stair climbing data. The notification widget from Argus is able to display the number of floors I moved up during the day if I'm using an iPhone 6 Plus. If I'm using an iPhone 5S, there's no such data available, so the widget simply doesn't mention it at all.

While I'm comparing the data from both devices, I should note is that the pedometer function acted very similarly between each other. However, as you can see in the pictures, iPhone 5S consistently recorded a bit more steps than iPhone 6 Plus, for some reason. Perhaps the bigger form factor and weight of the 6 Plus dampened the recorded movement a bit.
Continue reading "iPhone 6 Plus - M8 Motion Co-processor"

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