Today Apple released several new betas, but the most interesting new release among the flood of new software is the iOS 10.1 beta for the iPhone 7 Plus. That’s because the iOS 10.1 beta includes a preview of the new Portrait Mode in the iPhone 7 Plus Camera app, and we’ve taken the new feature for a brief test drive on video.

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Portrait mode was the much-hyped depth of field effect showcased by Phil Schiller at the recent iPhone 7 event. Unfortunately, the feature wasn’t ready in time for the iPhone 7 Plus launch, so the hardware launched without the feature. Apple promised that Portrait mode would be made available later via a free software update.

Not even a week after the iPhone 7’s release, Apple has shipped Portrait Mode to developers with public beta testers scheduled to get their first hands-on shortly thereafter. As iPhone 7 Plus owners, we were more than happy to jump on the beta to check out the new Portrait mode. Have a look at our brief hands-on video walkthrough as we showcase how the feature works at a high level.

Hands-on with Portrait Mode in iOS 10.1

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Things to note:

  • Portrait Mode requires plenty of light. Shots won’t turn out as well in low light, and at times you’ll get a “more light required” warning.
  • Portrait Mode only works with the iSight Duo (rear facing) Camera on the iPhone 7 Plus.
  • Portrait Mode does not work with video.
  • You’ll need to be at least eight feet away from your subject.
  • Portrait Mode works with people and inanimate objects.
  • Portrait Mode contains a 3 or 10-second timer.
  • Portrait Mode is still in beta, thus, the results won’t always be perfect.
  • TechCrunch’s Matt Panzarino got an early hands-on look at Portrait Mode, and talked about some of the feature’s technical aspects and limitations.

Here are the before and after shots:


Without the Portrait Mode’s depth effect


With the Portrait Mode’s depth effect

What’s most impressive to me is the fact that the depth effect works on people and objects. I was almost sure that it would be a people-only thing, at least initially, due to the way Apple was wording the feature during its event and in its press materials. As Apple often does, it under-promised and over-delivered; that much is obvious, even in this early beta stage of the game.

What are your thoughts on the new Portrait mode?

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