Microsoft is taking on Apple’s own camera app with an iOS app it claims is smarter. Microsoft Pix has no user controls, but is instead controlled by AI software, which attempts to work out what you are photographing and automatically adjust the settings to give the best results. It also automatically enhances your photos, and shows you the before-and-after to allow you to pick the version you prefer.

TNW and Recode have been testing it, and both seem impressed. TNW opens with what it describes as a bold claim, but one which it says is backed by the results it saw.

Microsoft might have just made the best camera app for the iPhone, and it’s ridiculously easy to use …

The piece is illustrated with comparison shots of one of the bigger photographic challenges: people in the foreground with a brighter scene in the background behind them (shown below). Pix recognizes the faces in the image, and automatically boosts exposure of the faces while leaving the background untouched. In photographic terms, bringing up the shadows while leaving the highlights alone.

The usual solution to this is to use flash, which will light the foreground but not the more distant background, but flashlight can be unflattering.

Here’s TNW‘s comparison between Apple’s stock Camera app …


And Microsoft Pix:


Apple’s own camera app automatically takes a whole burst of shots, aiming to retain the best of them, and Pix seems to go further with the same approach, says Recode.

Microsoft uses artificial intelligence in a variety of ways to provide a better picture. It draws from stills it discards to improve the best shots by reducing noise and also automatically adjusts contrast and white balance with a focus on making sure the faces in shots look great.

Pix keeps things seamless by saving photos to the normal Camera Roll, and by also having the ability to create Live Photos. Microsoft’s promo video says that it creates Live Photos automatically when it detects ‘interesting movement.’

The app is a free download from iTunes. I’ll be testing it for a later review.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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