Drop everything and download: Spectre

Makers of Halide give long exposures a shot of AI

Apple introduced its Live Photos feature to the world when it launched the iPhone 6S back in 2015 - and most people have been trying to work out what the hell the gif-type snaps are for ever since.

Finally, just over three years later, the makers of a new camera app called Spectre have found the answer...

What does it do?

Spectre makes taking long-exposure photos a doddle. Usually you’d need a tripod and at least a basic grasp of how exposure and shutter speed works to have any chance of capturing one of those shots where light streaks across the frame like something out of Tron.

Rather than just flinging the shutter open and letting the light flood in, Spectre takes hundreds of individual shots over the course of up to nine seconds, then uses AI to stitch them all together and create a single long-exposure picture. The final shot is saved as a Live Photo, so you can finetune it afterwards, plus it’ll also save the whole scene as a video.

That AI assistance is also used for image stabilisation and scene recognition, so it’ll know if you’re trying to shoot a busy road at night or waves lapping at the beach on a summer’s day. The app can also use long-exposures to erase movement from your pictures, so you can make normally busy places look more like a scene from 28 Days Later.

Any downsides?

As with any app that promises to do a job that normally requires specialist kit and some know-how, you have to manage your expectations of Spectre.

You might need a few attempts to get something you’re happy with, plus you need to make sure AI image stabilisation is turned on, which only works on iPhones with Neural Engines (8 or later). And even though you can shoot handheld, results will always be better if you can find something to steady your phone on.

Like Halide, the back-to-basics camera app that the Spectre team released in 2017, it’s only available for iOS, so Android owners also miss out.

Where can I get it?