It’s no mystery to anybody who follows technology that Microsoft have been on a bit of a winning streak lately; the successful launch of Windows 10 (for the most part), the announcement of HoloLens, and of course the stunningly beautiful (yet expensive) Surface Pro 4. Well hang on to your coat tails ladies and gentleman, because Microsoft have released a Selfie app for iOS!
Microsoft must believe it can change the way you take selfies for the foreseeable future so I decided to take a look at the app for myself to see what it’s all about, and if it’s really worth using over the foray of photo enhancement applications out there.
What Does It Do?
Before I get into what I think this application does, I’ll let Microsoft have their say on what they believe it does first (Quote from the App Store description):
Microsoft Selfie is a selfie and portrait enhancement application. The app takes age, gender, skin tone, lighting, and many other variables into account, applies different models automatically and finishes enhancement with just a single click. Users can transform average photos into more presentable portraits in seconds. Key features of this application are noise reduction, intelligent enhancement, automatic exposure and color theme.
I’m not sure if you remember a web application called ‘How old do I look?’, but this was a Microsoft created experiment to learn about everyday situations, creating an algorithm that will, as you may have gotten already, guess your age. Microsoft Selfie works on the same formula and foundations on which the ‘How old do I look?’ has, but on a more advanced level. Microsoft have done this before on Windows Phone with the Lumia Selfie app, but decided that these golden nuggets they call ‘algorithms’ needed to be ported over onto iOS to see if they translate well.
So, in a nutshell, this application will take a picture you have either imported or taken from the app. Calculate the surroundings – taking into account your face, the lighting, gender, skin tone etc. Then apply an automatic filter for you to make you look a million dollars. If you don’t like how the enhanced image has turned out, Microsoft were kind enough to implement Instagram-like pre-made filters in there so you can pick and choose whichever effect you like.
The functionality of the Microsoft Selfie app is much like any other Microsoft application on iOS. Very smooth, easy to use, while adding a bit of a ‘Microsoft’ touch to it, so you know it’s definitely a Microsoft app. The biggest clue that it is Microsoft made would of course be their logo along the bottom of the interface, with the age old MS font type thrown in there for good measure.
In terms of the colour scheme, the only word I could use to describe it is ‘garish’. It’s a very in your face peach/pink that could probably wake you up from a deep sleep if it had the power to do so (Maybe Microsoft should make an algorithm for that).
There’s not much more to say in terms of its functionality, as this is as simple as an app can get for function. It’s a very straight-forward photo enhancement application that does a good job of telling the user how to use the application, and what to do within the app as well. It gets a thumbs up from me, as I can see even the newest of users knowing what to do from the get go.
My Selfie Thoughts
I’ve been using this app for the most part of a day. Now, I’m not part of the main demographic who would be using this app, as I’m not a ‘selfie’ type of person if I can help it. But from my experience so far, it doesn’t really offer anything new to the table that Instagram hasn’t already done. The only thing I could say that was quite good about this app, and takes away from Instagram, is its way of automatically enhancing the image for you, and doing a pretty damned good job of judging your surroundings and basing the enhancements on that.
I took a total of 6 selfies (Like I say, not a selfie guy) using this app, in different lighting conditions (with no duck faces in sight) and the results were very good, if not better than what most of Instagram’s filters offer. Would I use it over Instagram? No, because this application has no social outreach from what I can gather, but it wasn’t made for that in the first place. I’m just comparing it to Instagram for the sheer fact that it acts a lot LIKE Instagram in so many ways just with a different design.
Obviously the counter-argument to that would be that you cannot save your edited Instagram pictures, but that’s for another time. Microsoft Selfie is a good app, with decent execution, but no real rhyme or reason for anybody to use it over other services out there right now, in my opinion. If you want to try it for yourself, you can download Microsoft Selfie here.