Apple's big release season is almost over — iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have been out for over a month, and iPhone X finally hit stores last week. HomePod, the company's new smart speaker, is set to debut in December, and will likely be the last major Apple hardware release of 2017.
The app, which lets you create short video clips to share in iMessage and across social channels, has only been around since March. It was created to fill the middle ground between two other Apple products: the more complicated moviemaker iMovie, and the ultra-simplistic, auto-generated Photos tool, Memories. With Clips, any amateur filmmaker can create a mini-movie that looks polished, thanks to built-in animations, music, and other special effects.
If you haven't tried Clips, or weren't sold on the app when it first launched, it's worth the update, especially if you bought an iPhone X. Clips 2.0 has a new, more user friendly interface, but the real standout is an X exclusive feature called Selfie Scenes. The feature use X's TrueDepth camera system, the same one that allows for Face ID and portrait mode selfies, to create the iPhone version of a green screen.
Click on any of the 12 scenes, accessible from the "Scenes" tab beneath the main Clips camera, and you're instantly placed in a new, 360-degree world. Some scenes are artistic in nature, depicting you and your background as ink sketches or paintings. Use the front-facing camera to see yourself on the streets of Tokyo or in outer space; reversing the camera will allow you to explore the scene around you in a VR-like manner.
As you rotate your phone, you'll see new parts of the digitally created landscapes. When using the front-facing camera, a selfie filter will match you to the background. So, for example, on city streets, your face will be lit in the same colors of the neon signs that surround you in the scene. You can take still photos of a Selfie Scene to share on Instagram, or film a short video in one.
(One thing worth noting: Don't spend too long filming Selfie Scenes. When I used the feature for more than seven minutes, my iPhone began overheating, and a notice in the app told me that the camera wasn't functioning properly as a result.)
This latest application of the TrueDepth camera makes one thing very clear: Apple is just beginning to scratch the surface of what can be done with its new camera technology. (This week, we've already seen other companies, including Warby Parker, use the camera for creative and useful new applications.) While a selfie scene alone might not be enough to convince people to invest in iPhone X, it certainly helps. Though, a warning: You may suffer from wanderlust after use of this product.