iOS 15.1 Beta 3 | ProRes Video, Fix for ‘Jarring’ Macro Mode on iPhone 13 Pro

iPhone 13 Pro Credit: Hadrian / Shutterstock
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The march toward the first iOS 15 point release continues as Apple has just released the third beta of iOS 15.1 to developers, with a public beta likely to soon follow.

While the first iOS 15.1 beta focused largely on the return of SharePlay, it looks like Apple has a few other tricks up its sleeve, with iOS 15.1 slated to bring some key features to the new iPhone 13 Pro lineup.

ProRes Video Recording

Chief among these new features is support for the promised ProRes video format on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. When Apple unveiled its new iPhone 13 lineup last month, it noted that ProRes would be coming “later this year.”

While that could have easily meant we wouldn’t see it until iOS 15.2 or iOS 15.3, it looks like Apple doesn’t want to keep customers of its premium iPhone models waiting.

Based on past release cycles, this means that iPhone 13 Pro users will likely be able to enjoy ProRes recording by the end of this month, although of course you can jump on the public beta if you really want to get your hands on it sooner.

While most iPhone users probably won’t have much use for the ultra-high-quality recording format — especially since you can expect it to take up multiple gigabytes of storage for every minute of video footage — it promises to be a pretty big boon for those who want to use the iPhone 13 Pro for more professional pursuits, since the video will be ready to go straight into professional-grade editing apps like Final Cut Pro.

As things stand now, it looks like you won’t be able to choose your preferred flavour of ProRes. Instead, Apple has only provided a single toggle switch, which records everything in the highest-quality (and largest) ProRes 422 HQ, which is going to create some pretty massive files:

How Big Are ProRes Files?

  • 1.7GB per minute of 1080p HD video at 30fps
  • 3.3GB per minute of 1080p. HD video at 60fps
  • 7GB per minute of 4K video at 30fps

It’s easy to see why the 128GB iPhone 13 Pro models are limited to 1080p recording at 30fps, but it’s also safe to say that if you’re planning to do any serious work in ProRes, you’re going to want to spring for the 1TB model.

ProRes recording on the iPhone 13 Pro maxes out at 4K/30fps, but it’s unclear whether that’s a limitation of the A15 chip’s video signal processor or whether Apple simply chose to put a cap on it due to the even larger file sizes. After all, a minute of 4K video at 60fps would take up 14GB, which could add up pretty fast.

However, since third-party apps have already unlocked the ProRes capture capabilities, including 4K/60fps recording, it’s fair to say this is an artificial limitation.

Then there’s also the matter of getting these files off your iPhone. The Lightning port is still limited to USB 2.0 speeds, which means you can expect the transfer times for your 4K ProRes 422 HQ creations to be in the order of hours rather than minutes. If ever there was a time for Apple to switch to USB-C on the iPhone, this would have been it.

Disable Auto Macro Mode

It looks like that’s not all that iOS 15.1 is bringing to the table for the iPhone 13 Pro, however, as the third beta also delivers a switch to disable the new macro photography mode on Apple’s two flagship iPhones.

Although the ability to take macro photos on the iPhone 13 Pro is a remarkable new feature, the way that the feature automatically kicked in when an object came within about 10cm of the lens was something that many users found a bit jarring, as illustrated in the video below from Raymond Wong of Input:

In fact, Wong considered the camera user experience so annoying that he held back his recommendation for the iPhone 13 Pro until Apple resolves the issue.

But there’s been one thing that has been bothering me in the week I’ve been testing the iPhone 13 Pros’ cameras. Something so frustrating that, for the first time in a decade, I’m not upgrading to the best iPhone camera that Apple has to offer… at launch. Not until Apple fixes it, at least.

Raymond Wong

While Apple told Wong that a fix would be coming “in a software update this fall,” it was another one of these vague promises that could have meant anything from now until late December.

Fortunately, however, Apple is on it, and the setting can now be found in the Camera settings in the third beta of iOS 15.1, in the form of a new “Auto Macro” toggle switch that allows users to decide whether they want to use the automatic switching or not. It appears to be on by default, but users can easily switch it off with a trip into the Settings app.

There doesn’t appear to be a specific option to enable macro photography manually if the Auto Macro option is off. However, since the Auto Macro mode basically just switches to the Ultra Wide lens, users can simply tap on the 0.5x button to switch to the Ultra Wide lens manually whenever they want to take a macro shot.

Other Changes and Fixes in iOS 15.1

We already know from prior betas that iOS 15.1 will likely bring support for SharePlay, which didn’t quite make it into the iOS 15.0 release, but we’re also hoping it will address many of the bugs that users have been running into.

Apple pushed out an iOS 15.0.1 release earlier this week to fix a few critical features, including a problem unlocking the iPhone 13 with an Apple Watch, but other problems persist even after that update.

One of these appears to have been addressed in iOS 15.1 beta 3, however, which is the Look Around image quality bug that was reported last month.

Tech journalist Domenico Panacea, who originally reported the problem to Apple, shared yesterday that the latest iOS 15.1 beta appears to resolve the problem.

iOS 15.1 will also bring support for storing verifiable COVID-19 vaccination cards in Apple Wallet.

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