Viewfinder on iPhone 5

Apple finally delivered our iPhone 5 and iPod touch 5th generation devices last week. We had completed the camera measurements, all editions of the app had been submitted and is now sitting in the review queue. So I’ll use the waiting time to talk about how version 2.9 supports the wider (or taller) screen that these new devices have.

First of all some interesting observations. In the past iPod cameras had narrower angle of views that iPhones. This is reversed in this case. The 5th generation iPod’s angle of view is a bit wider than the iPhone 5’s! Which is in turn wider than the iPhone 4/4S cameras sported.

The not-so-good-news is that the aspect ratio of the cameras on the new devices is still 4:3. Although it was a nice fit on 3:2 aspect screens (leaving a nice space for buttons), The space remaining on the sides is much bigger on the 16:9 screens. Photos app in iOS took the path of covering the extra space with user interface elements (the button bar), which looks odd and wastes useful screen real estate. Our approach is a bit different. The idea is to provide as much screen real estate for the actual image as possible, and leave user interface elements at the same size as they were before. By default the image from the sensor is fitted into the main screen’s image area, leaving the frame space visible on the sides, as so you see on the image below.

If you zoom the image, however, it will use the entire area. This is useful for simulating wider than 4:3 aspect cameras, where we have some wasted space above and below the frame lines on older iDevices. As you can see on the screen shot below, it provides a much better working experience when you are zoomed in than sticking with the 4:3 aspect image area.

I think filmmakers and videographers will especially love the wider screen combined with this approach.

This is how a HD camera simulation looks on an iPhone 4.

And this is what you get on an iPhone 5. Waaay more space for the image!

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, all Viewfinder editions (including ALPA eFinder) are waiting for Apple’s review at the moment. I’ll let you know when they become available for download.

Update: The apps are out. Read the announcement.

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