Apple has found a brilliant way to make video stills less awful

If you’ve ever tried capturing a still while shooting video on your phone, you probably know that the image can turn out more grainy than a Panera Bread sandwich even with the recording quality set to the highest resolution. So you end up trying and trying again until finally settling for the least disappointing shot, a situation that Apple is now trying to solve.

The approach described in the newest video editing patent application to have been published from the company involves automatically reconfiguring the camera to take a picture during filming. When you select the still capture option, the 16×9 aspect ratio used for film will be changed to the 4×3 proportion of regular images for half the frames.

The photo-quality portion is then transmitted to an image sensor that can maintain resolution of up to 12.5 megapixels, according to the filling, while the rest is handled by the video chip. In view of the fact that both formats are processed on a single piece of silicon in the iPhone 6, that seems to confirm speculation that future models will decouple the two for higher quality.

Once everything is properly digitized, the streams are merged to form a single 60fps sequence that will be brought up in a preview mode after the user selects the still capture option. The system will letterbox the image-quality photos the portion of the video cut off due to the reduced aspect ratio and revert the entire screen back to 16×9 once you’re all done.

In case you’re still wondering about why the upcoming still capture function will apparently be able to handle 12.5-megapixel photos when the last few iPhone models had an 8-megapixel camera, the answer is exciting. There are clearly some great chances ahead for photography buffs in the Apple universe.