Metapho and visionOS

Today, Metapho comes to your favorite spatial computing device, Apple Vision Pro. With the 2024.3 update, I've added native support for visionOS and made the subscription plan work across iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and visionOS.

While the native version doesn't introduce any fancy new features, it has helped improve Metapho on all platforms by encouraging me to modernize many parts of the app. Metapho turns 10 this year, so deprecated APIs and inefficient code had to be cleaned up to make the native visionOS version possible. As a result, the app is smoother and more stable than ever.

Release Note

Metapho Supports Auxies and HDR

Metapho 2024.1 is available on the App Store today. This version brings High Dynamic Range (HDR) support, adds Photos Library HEIC editing, and makes it easy to access auxiliary data.


For iOS 17 and macOS 14 Sonoma, HDR photos and videos are rendered as HDR images on the supported devices. HDR assets retain their HDR-ness even after editing metadata — removing metadata, changing date/location — since Metapho now knows how to handle HDR gain map auxiliary data.

HEIC Editing

Starting from iOS 17 and macOS 14, Photos allows you to add a new version of an item in HEIC format; previously, JPEG was the only option. Strangely, Photos uses the .jpg file name extension for the new version of the file, even if it is in HEIC format internally. But it walks like HEIC and quacks like HEIC, it’s a HEIC file. Now Metapho adds .jpg HEIC file as a new version of your photo when you select Edit Original save option in your Photos Library.


The latest iPhones’ Camera app automatically takes a portrait image when a person’s face is detected. What makes a photo Portrait Photo? It's various auxiliary data embedded in the photo, such as the disparity (depth) map, Effects Matte, and Glasses Matte (and more). These are essential ingredients for applying Portrait Effects for Photos. Now, these auxiliary data — I named it Auxies — are neatly visualized and displayed under the Assets view. You can preview them and export them with drag and drop, enabling you to apply your own manual effects using other image editor apps. You could also find the HDR Gain Map Auxy for HDR photos backed by HDR Gain Map, and embedded JPEG data Auxy for RAW images like DNG1.

Release Note

  1. These full-size embedded JPEGs also have metadata and Metapho edits them too when you change metadata of the containing DNG file

Metapho Release Notes

Metapho 2023.4 for iOS and iPadOS is now available, and the macOS version will be available soon — in line with the release of macOS 14 Sonoma.
I have been able to deliver more frequent, smaller updates, thanks to the app now being funded by a steady stream of subscriptions. I've also created a web page for version history to accommodate these update notes.

Introducing Metapho for Mac

Metapho version 3.7 is out today. This version adds support for macOS, making it a universal app available for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.

Metapho for Mac App Icon

Since the Photos app adds primitive support for date / location adjustment in iOS 15, it has covered the basic demand for lightweight metadata tagging (though it’s not real editing; more on that later). This shifted the direction of Metapho’s development towards more advanced areas, and encouraged me to start developing Mac support.

Today, I’m excited — and honestly, terrified — to introduce its first-ever support for macOS (Metapho was not previously available for "iPad app on Mac"). Yeah, my name is YoonHyung and I have a problem. I just couldn’t tick the "Available on Mac App Store" check box for the iOS version of the app and call it a day. Instead, I spent many many months making Mac Catalyst version of the app a Mac-Assed Mac app.

The Mac version puts file and folder support first. For example, a new window starts with the File Bookmarks view. First-class support for files and folders makes it much easier to manage date and location metadata for your photos if you're using directories for storage and organization.

Metapho’s Photos Library support is still great, and even better than Photos' basic date / location adjustment feature since Metapho can add metadata-edited versions of the underlying files or export them outside of Photos with their new metadata.

Pricing & Availability

It’s free to download Metapho from App Store and use it with read only mode + Share without Metadata feature. A subscription is required to use the editing features. A $19.99 per year subscription will enable full feature on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS versions of the app.

A one-time purchase ($99.99) is also available.

For existing customers who have already paid to unlock the iOS version, Metapho for iOS and iPadOS will remain unlocked forever, while a one-time purchase for macOS version can be purchased at a discounted price — 30-40% off — depending on your App Store region.

Metapho offers 7-day free trial with its yearly subscription. Try it for yourself now.

Metapho 3.7 Release Note

Introducing Metapho for Mac! Metapho goes universal today and its intuitive Date / Location editing is now available on the macOS too.


  • Faster app launch when you have lots of Folders bookmarked in Files section
  • Better EXIF MakerNote handling
  • Adds ‘Open in Metapho’ to the iOS Share Sheet for opening image/video files in-place in Metapho
  • Improves performance of Photos Library left/right swipe navigation
  • More consistent keyboard navigation and focus handling

Bug Fixes

  • AVI file extension was set incorrectly when the file was converted to MOV for editing and sharing. Fixed
  • Fixes a bug where the file bookmark you had removed refused to disappear right away
  • Fixes a bug where incorrect item was shared when the same item was exported in multiple windows simultaneously
  • Fixes incorrect time zone setting when the app was editing a file that had not been downloaded locally
  • Now, multi-file-date-shifting works as expected
  • On iPadOS + compact width, Cancel button when you’re picking save options in Location Edit, works again

Metapho Supports Files

Me: I’m going to add Files support to Metapho!

On iOS, while Photos app has main focus for the workflows dealing with images and videos, sometimes you want to work with your files directly in the Locations of Files app such as iCloud Drive, On My iPhone, and SMB server locations.

Metapho 3.6 adds support for files based workflows. It lets you add bookmarks of files and folders to the sidebar. Added folder is treated like a Photos album, so that you can check and edit metadata of the files in the folder. This enables neat workflows like changing location tags of photos in your SD card directly1.

Under Files section in the sidebar, Bookmarks stores file bookmarks added individually. Use Add File… menu or drag files from Files app and drop to the Bookmarks view to add single file bookmarks. Items like files and subfolders in your folder can be accessed by bookmarking the folder in the Files Locations. Tapping Add Folder… lets you pick a folder to grant Metapho access to its contents. Unfortunately, after many, many attempts, I couldn’t make drag and drop work for folders.

I’ve poured much effort into things like coordinated reading and writing, batch operations, download progress from iCloud… to make them work just like items in Photos Library.

As always this is a free update for all existing users. And if you're a generous and kind existing user, you can buy me a coffee.

  1. After you backed up those files somewhere else, of course

Metapho 3.6 Release Note

Metapho 3.6 introduces Files integration and Sidebar layout.

New Features

  • Files support: Files integration lets you add a bookmark of a file or folder to the sidebar. It opens in-place. You can directly edit metadata of the files in Files Locations without making duplications or importing them to Photos.
  • Sidebar: Quickly find Photos album and Files folder in a new sidebar for iPad.
  • Date Filter is added to Photos Library. Since items in the library are ordered by creation date, you can apply a filter by picking start and end dates.

Improvements and bug fixes

  • More native support for Limited Library Access. You can edit selected photos in the app.
  • Without Photos Library access permission, full or selective, the app still works with Files integration feature alone.
  • Safe Share is free. Share without Metadata doesn’t require unlock purchase.
  • Automatic location detection for clipboard, which caused excessive clipboard notification, is removed. Instead, “Paste from Clipboard” action is added to Location Edit.
  • Some type of HEIC file, which has no EXIF data at all, crashed Metapho at editing time. Fixed.
  • User created album with a location filter mishandled changes of album membership. Fixed.
  • Metapho respects HEIC image asset with .jpg file extension, added by Photos Edit. It keeps .jpg file extension when it’s saved with Save as a New Copy save option.
  • Metapho app extension reported an error on exporting videos in Photos. Fixed.

Metapho 3.5 Release Note

Metapho shows keyboard shortcuts

Metapho 3.5 improves quality of life using the app on the iPad.

I’ve waited for a long time, silently, that Apple someday adds system level keyboard support to UICollectionView, which Metapho uses for its Photos Library grid. Since there was no sign my patience — lazyness, honestly — would be rewarded soon, I bite the bullet and added it by myself.

The hardware keyboard makes it more easy and ergonomic to navigate and select items, and gives you quick access to the metadata editing actions. The shortcuts help page is accessible by pressing cmd + shift + ? in the app.

iPad’s trackpad gestures and cursor are better supported in this update, too.

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixes an issue that Share Sheet did not work correctly after cancelling initial sharing activity
  • Fixes a bug that made the app unresponsive for a moment when you tap cancel while a Live Photo sharing is in progress
  • Fixes editing of raw image with edited version
  • Improves performance for large batch sharing work
  • Shows Author metadata for video if available

Metapho is available on the App Store

Deep Fusion or Not?

iOS 13.2 introduced exciting new camera feature, Deep Fusion, and I’ve been enjoying enhanced details — mostly in the photos of my dog. So far, you have kind of control to turn on or off Deep Fusion with Capture Outside the Frame setting, but there’s no way to tell a photo is deeply fused or not by Photos app’s display alone. Well, confusion is over.

Metapho 3.4.2 indicates Deep Fusion and Night Mode under the Image Information section. How?

For Deep Fusion, it’s flash EXIF metadata field. Ever since iPhone 4 introduced that tiny camera flash, normal photo taken with back camera without flash firing has integer value 16 in the field. A deeply fused photo has 32 — means no flash function, so Metahpo can read this field and compare iPhone model number to determine it’s Deep Fusion or not. I hope that Deep Fusion writes 32 to the flash field, is well intended thing and remains consistent.

Night Mode is more straightforward. It has couple of dedicated EXIF tags indicating the number of composite image used, and min/max/sum of multiple exposure times. Since a single Shutter Speed time loses its meaning for Night Mode’s compositing of multiple images, I’ve replaced Shutter Speed field under the Camera Information section for these fields.

And there’s Capture Outside the Frame. Additional images with wider field of view are well hidden to the third party app before a user makes edits explicitly in Photos. It is accessible by Metapho once the additional assets become permanent after cropping or straightening within Photos. Then you can find it in the list of assets.

Metapho 3.4 release note

Metapho 3.4 adds Shortcuts Actions, Dark Mode, Location Copy Paste, and multiwindow support.

Shortcuts Actions

iOS 13 Shortcuts now supports parameters, which enables third-party app to provide image handling Actions without clipboard workaround or base64 texts. The new Metapho Shortcuts Actions — Get Metadata, Set Date / Location to Metadata, and Apply Metadata — use parameters for the target image file and metadata dictionary. An action takes and outputs a metadata dictionary as a text file compatible with JSON.

These four new actions could run quite deep, since you can edit and apply any metadata field with JSON editor like Jayson, in your Shortcuts shortcut.

Location Copy and Paste

Metapho now detects location metadata in the clipboard and suggests Paste from Clipboard button on the map view when you edit location. It also supports Drag and Drop. You can drop any item contains latitude and longitude like a pin from Maps, a video from Photos, or an image file from Files to the map view. And you can copy or drag the location section in Metapho, too.

Hygiene Features for iOS 13

  • Dark Mode
  • Multiwindow: On iPadOS you can create a new window by dragging a photo from the grid. Checking metadata side by side is pretty useful.
  • Context Menus for quick access
  • Refined user interface symbols

Thank you for using Metapho. If you’ve been enjoying the app for a long time and feeling guilty for those free updates, well, no more! You can buy me a coffee.