Darkroom for iPhone X

Hot on the heels of last month’s blockbuster Darkroom 3 release with over 18 user-facing new features, we’re thrilled to share Darkroom for iPhone X — An update designed to take every advantage of the device’s unique screen. We couldn’t help ourselves from adding a few other highly-requested features too 😉 If you’re impatient, scroll down for the full changelog.


Designing for the iPhone X

Like most developers, when we first saw the iPhone X screen during Apple’s keynote, our first reaction was “Woah! Cool!” followed quickly by “But wait…how does that work with my rectangular app?” followed shortly thereafter by “The home button is on-screen and uses the bottom-edge-swipe? How does that work with my app?”

We didn’t have answers right away. Twitter was fast to condemn the notch/forehead as proof-positive of Apple’s shortcomings in design, but we saw it as a worthwhile tradeoff between form and function, and wondered how we can embrace the notch with a warm hug and a big kiss.

A quick session with a friend’s Essential phone (with an OLED displaying and a mini-notch) confirmed that the new screen’s perfect blacks were, indeed, quite perfectly black, and that surrounding the notch with app content did indeed lend itself to a very immersive experience when embraced.

The iPhone X essentially provides the physical form factor of the 6/7/8, or ~5.5 x 2.75 Inch, but fits in more pixels and a larger physical screen.

Speaking specifically from Darkroom’s perspective, the other aspect of the screen that immediately stood out to us was the aspect ratio. You see, during Darkroom’s inception, the iPhone 5S was king of iOS, Instagram was the primary use-case we designed for, and Instagram was square-only. As such, we designed the app to fit a full-width square image, with enough space left over for the tools below.

Since then, iPhones have gotten much bigger, and Instagram now supports non-square images. Portrait iPhone photos became much more popular. However, because of height-constraints, Darkroom had to downsize the photos to accommodate the tools. The iPhone X, in contrast, has a taller screen than the iPhone 8 Plus, but is approximately as narrow as the iPhone 8. This presented a unique opportunity for us, which we took full advantage of by redesigning the navigation bar, and adjusting the dimensions of the toolspace. Now, on iPhone X, Darkroom can render a full-size portrait iPhone photo while editing.

iPhone 8 (left) vs iPhone X (right). The iPhone X isn’t physically much bigger than an iPhone 8, only 0.2 inch taller and 0.34 inch wider. It has a taller screen though, allowing us to show more photo and more controls.

Embracing the Screen: Wide-Gamut Color support, HEIF, and Metal 2

Apart from the support of the notch, we also wanted to take advantage of the new OLED display which has a much higher contrast ratio than the previous generations. That’s why we made Darkroom end-to-end colorspace aware, in order to edit, preview, and export full wide-gamut color images using the Display P3 color space, one of the only third-party editing apps on iOS to support it.

All of this is backed by our latest update to the rendering pipeline, and enabled by the deep investment in infrastructure we made in Darkroom 3. With today’s update, iPhone 7-and-newer devices render and process everything on top of the latest Metal 2 technologies, delivering even faster editing performance, improving rendering quality, and adding support for the full range of colors supported by the screen.

The investment we made in overhauling the whole engine for 3.0 has proven fertile ground, enabling us to add amazing state of the art technologies at an incredible pace.

Extending Darkroom’s Capabilities

Along with the all the UI and infrastructure changes to support the iPhone X, we have also extended Darkroom’s editing and management capabilities. In this update, we have tackled one of the big requests from the community: Full metadata support.

Now, when you long-press on an image in the grid or tap on the “…” action menu while editing, you will be presented with an option to “View Metadata”, which will load the most relevant information attached to the photo. On the other side, you can now attach copyright information to photos you share from Darkroom.

We also added support for Apple’s new image codec, HEIC, by adding support for the new files format in the revamped “Export Options” Settings page. The file size savings are quite impressive, particularly at slightly-compressed quality settings.

Finally, we are releasing our first integration with Apple’s new Machine-Learning Vision framework with the addition of auto-horizon-detection and correction. Now, when you opt-in to the feature, Darkroom will analyze your photo, and if it detects that the photo is mis-aligned, it will automatically align it for you.

1. HEIF and Copyright Metadata Export options, 2. Chromeless viewing of your Library, 3. Metadata viewing in app.

We hope you enjoy these changes, and we look forward to seeing what you guys do with Darkroom. Please tag your photos with #darkroomapp so we can feature your great work with our community :)


Full Changelog

  • iPhone X UI — An updated design for the iPhone X that embraces the new 2436x1125-pixel screen, making for a more immersive experience.
  • Wide-Gamut Color Support (Display P3 colorspace) — The Super Retina Display of the iPhone X brings stunning colors, true blacks, high brightness, and a 1,000,000 to 1 contrast ratio. We added end-to-end colorspace support to take full advantage of its color depth and contrast.
  • Metal 2 Rendering — In the process of enabling Wide Gamut Color we also gained a stunning performance increase. We are now powered by Metal 2 rendering, providing us near-direct access to the graphics processing unit (GPU), and enabling us to fully maximize graphics moving forward (Only on supported devices).
  • Auto Horizon Detection and Correction — The Transform tool now detects and provides auto correction to quickly and easily (opt-in). All using Apple brand new Vision Machine Learning tools.
  • Metadata support — Simply access it from the action menus (Long press on grid or tap the ‘…’ button in the edit screen. See all the most important EXIF metadata fields.
  • Copyright Metadata for exporting — Accessible through Export Options in Settings, you can now add copyright metadata (creator, copyright notice) to your photo when exporting.
  • High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF) — Support for importing and exporting. This new file format developed by Apple provides equal quality compared to JPEG, but at a much higher compression rate enabling smaller files sizes.
  • Improved how immersive the Library grid is by auto hiding the Album Picker, and collapsing and hiding Header Action Bar when scrolling up into the library.
  • Improved the Purchase Dialog shown after tapping buy from the purchase bar
  • Fixed a problem that caused the app the library grid to sometimes not updated the photo previews properly
  • Fixed two minor layout issues with the Live Photo and iCloud loader indicators

Majd & Jasper