How to use the HTC Ones Zoe mode

first_imgHTC made a lot of changes to its Sense overlay for the HTC One, but the Ultrapixel camera may have gotten the most attention. It’s a significant risk to buck the trend of aiming for more megapixels and instead go for low-light performance and features. With HTC’s software layer, the custom camera sensor can do some really interesting things.Zoe is the headlining feature, but it’s not immediately apparent what you can do with it. Let’s go over the best uses for Zoe.What is a Zoe?Zoe is short for zoetrope, a cylindrical device that spins to produce the illusion of motion in a rapid succession of static images. That should give you a clue as to what HTC’s Zoe really is. It looks like a short 3-second video when you shoot it, but there’s something more going on.Each Zoe consists of 3 seconds of 1080p video at 30fps, but the HTC One is also taking a series of 2688×1520 still photos at the same time. That is the full 4MP resolution of the Ultrapixel sensor. Each Zoe contains about 20 of these individual images, but they’re not exposed in the stock Gallery app by default.You can think of a Zoe as a fancy burst mode, but with some extra Sense features on top.How to use ZoeIn the main camera interface, there is a small button on the far left to activate Zoe mode. If the button is blue, Zoe is activated. All you have to do is tap the shutter button and the Zoe is captured, but it actually buffers about a second of video before you press the shutter, which helps to make sure you don’t miss the shot.When your Zoe is complete, it will be accessible in the Gallery. The way HTC utilizes the video aspect of Zoes is very neat. They come to life in the Gallery app, even as thumbnails when you’re looking at multiple albums. It’s kind of a show-off feature, but looks great nonetheless.You can use the multiple frames in a Zoe for several things. If you want to make sure you get the right picture, you can take a Zoe instead of a single frame. After the Zoe plays, a progress bar will appear at the bottom where you can move through the video frame by frame. When you see the perfect shot, hit Menu > Save frame. The app will pull out the full resolution image for that spot and drop it in the Gallery.In the Edit menu of the Gallery, there are a few more Zoe-specific features. If you have a Zoe with a lot of movement, the Sequence Shot is neat. The One will process all the frames and overlay several of them to show the subject moving through the frame. This works best when the phone is stationary and stable throughout the Zoe.In the same area you’ll find the Always Smile mode. With this, you can use your Zoe to detect when your subject is smiling, and grab that frame automatically. It can detect multiple faces and join up the smiling frames into one image. My experience with this has been okay, but not great. The final images sometimes look a little  odd if you don’t have very good lighting.Object removal is another use for Zoe, but this one is a bit more touchy. It can remove an object (or person) that passes through your Zoe as long as it isn’t there the whole time. So if someone walks through the background of a shot, and that’s the frame you want, you can remove them using the image data from another frame. I’ve never really seen this work satisfactorily in real life. If your hand shakes or the phone wavers a bit, the final result gets messy.Zoe mode hits and missesZoes are cool, but using non-HTC apps and services at the same time can be a headache. If you’re not fond of the HTC Gallery app, you can grab something else from Google Play. However, it won’t understand Zoes. Not only will the neat little video previews not work, but it shows you all the frames from each Zoe. It’s problematic.A similar issue crops up if you have Google+ photo backup turned on. All those frames are considered separate pictures by the app, so all of them end up in your Google account. The only way to avoid this is to stop taking Zoes, or turn off auto-uploads.I find myself taking Zoes with the HTC One frequently, and at least part of the reason is that Zoe is so easy to activate. This is a really useful feature, and it’s exclusive to the One right now.last_img read more