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Microsoft Selfie for iOS review: An abysmal app that's not worth your time

Selfies aren't usually that interesting, and the apps we use to take them are usually boring. However, Microsoft has managed to bring a new camera app that not only captures selfies but does it well ... at least if you listen to Microsoft. The camera uses some fancy picture merges to enhance the outcome. Some may argue that this is exactly what High Dynamic Range (HDR) does, however, Microsoft Selfie doesn't combine three different light settings into one, but instead combines two very similar pictures with the same settings to merge them and get the best possible result out of your photos.

Ironically, the Lumia Selfie app has been discontinued, leaving Microsoft's own platform without any alternatives for a good selfie camera experiences, except for the default camera app that is not optimized for selfies. This is yet another punch in the face towards Windows 10 Mobile users, especially Nokia fans, because the app originated from the now-defunct Nokia division.

Getting started with Microsoft Selfie

You just open the app and start taking selfies. The app features a simple and, mostly easy-to-use interface with only two buttons on launch: "Take picture" and "Use existing photo." They are nothing out of the ordinary, but it's definitely nice to see that the option to use existing photos has not been omitted.

The app features many different filters, unlike its Windows sibling, where you can select one preset then adjust the intensity of it if you want the filter to be lighter or stronger. However, most filter apps nowadays allow you to adjust the intensity of the filter to suit your preferences.

A few annoyances

After I got into the app and started using it, something was annoying me but I wasn't sure what. Then it suddenly hit me what was getting on my nerves: The annoying sounds the app has turned on by default. The annoying "whoosh" and "boing" remind me of Samsung's horrible TouchWiz UI from 2013. While I understand that Microsoft is trying to market this application to teenagers, this definitely isn't the right way to do it. I have a feeling that Microsoft was trying to mimic the feel of Snapchat, but it failed horribly. Thankfully these sounds can easily be disabled in the settings section of the app.

The camera doesn't allow for any other aspect ratio other than 1x1, or a simple square, which is often considered a standard on social media sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. But begin a standard doesn't mean Microsoft couldn't have implemented a wider angle for more casual selfies and for those who dislike this aspect ratio.

The app also crashes. A lot. While using it for longer periods of time, the app simply freezes up and closes. Sometimes it goes back to a working state after the freeze up, but then it usually performs very slowly, which indicates a memory leak, proof that the app is not only poorly designed but also poorly coded. Unfortunately, the frustrations do not end there.

The "auto denoise" disables your flash. This wouldn't have been an issue if it wasn't for the fact that there's no clear indication of why the flash button is gone. My initial thought was that the app simply doesn't support taking pictures with the flash, but I was wrong. After digging through the settings of the app I finally figured it out: When turning off the auto denoise feature, a small notification appears explaining that flipping the toggle on again will enable the flash again. I don't know why this needs explaining but when toggling it back on the notification says that enabling the "Auto Denoise" feature will disable flash which enlightened me why the flash button was gone.

The technology behind it

Filters simply are very interesting. Almost every selfie app includes filters, so what makes Microsoft Selfie stand out from the crowd? According to Microsoft, Microsoft Selfie was a project developed in order to further develop artificial intelligence (AI) and face recognition. This AI tries to determine where the face is present in the photo so the app can process that part and "denoise" it, removing small imperfections like acne or wrinkles. This sounds cool, but in reality, it's not all that great.

Based on my testing, the Microsoft Selfie app resulted in worse pictures than the default camera app, [Snapchat](https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/snapchat/id447188370?mt=8&at=10l3Vy&ct=UUwpUdUnU46620's built-in camera, as well as Microsoft's other camera, Microsoft Pix (opens in new tab). This is not a result I would expect from Microsoft, especially since its other camera offering manages to capture very good photographs by using the same technology behind it.

This results in a very poor experience. What is the point of a camera app that can't take good pictures?

It's not ALL bad ...

The app does have some positive aspects. It may not take good photos, but it does support using existing pictures and applying filters to them, which is where it might shine. The filters offered are not jaw-dropping, but they definitely are pretty and have a cool feeling to them. Using existing pictures and applying filters to these was actually pretty fun.

See more

I like the BlueDawn filter (see the above image) especially because it has a nice black and white, cold look to it. It really feels "crisp" in some way to me, while other filters don't speak to me in the same way as this one. There are no abstract filters like in Vinci (opens in new tab), which features way more advanced filters, but for anyone that likes subtle or less-intrusive filters, Microsoft Selfie should be more than enough.

Conclusion

Microsoft Selfie is definitely not something to write home about. It's poorly designed, takes bad pictures, has annoying settings turned on by default and offers a generally bad experience. There are some positive parts of it, like the inclusion of a dark theme and nice filters, but comparing it to the competition, there is nothing outstanding and even the filters feel like a quickly put together weekend project.

While the app is a Microsoft Research product, it's also a failure. As such, it's a waste of storage on your phone or tablet. Don't even waste your time with it.

Download Microsoft Selfie from the App Store (opens in new tab)

Dennis Bednarz is a former writer for Windows Central and the guy behind ModMy. He has been a recognised member of the Microsoft community for years and owns everything from Lumia phones to Surface PCs. He occasionally likes to rant about Windows Phone and drink tea. You can go ahead and follow him on Twitter at @DennisBednarz

63 Comments
  • *sigh* The fact that we need an app to make it easier for people to become more self-absorbed makes me lose even more faith in humanity.
  • Good point.
  • Just like Sega, giving up on hardware and sharing their software. #windowphoneisdead
  • Nah, it's not dead. It just smells funny.
  • Tbh even if it was dead, so what? You don't have to use it, but we still will. I still play my Dreamcast from time to time, it has kickass games. JET SET RADIIOOOOOOO
  • The removal of Lumia Selfie is more than a punch in the face, more like a steel toe capped boot to the gut. There are several lumia's out there with amazing front facing cameras... Personally I absolutely loathe taking selfies but for people who do and brought lumia's for the front facing cameras... I get the reasoning behind it but it's still moronic never the less. At this point and time, the mobile market I admit is pretty stagnant but it doesn't mean you completely forego the mindshare. Maybe at MWC or at build we will get a better indication what their mobile plans are given that the "surface phone" has been delayed. Most of us have an inkling but the rest of the world? Not so much.  
  • Personally I loved the front facing cameras from the 720, 73x and 950s.
  • @Cryio. I know alot of people who did too and Lumia Selfie was the one of apps I used to showcase the front facing camera to people who just love taking selfies. Which is why I say it was more a steel toe capped boot to the gut, the fall out I had experienced from the "retrenchment" was not particularly pleasent to say the least. If you sell a product, you are expected to provide after sales support and given how personal phones are.... that support extends to any third party apps that you may inherit. Because that's the norm and the experience for most people I know who I recommended windows phone too was not the norm, what Microsoft went through and is going through is not the norm. It's disruptive, understandably so BUT to the average joe it shows that they have "given up". The Methodology Microsoft is implementing leaves alot to be desired to put it politely.
  • The removal of Lumia Selfie is more than a punch in the face...
    Unless my phone has something strange going on, I am pretty sure Lumia Selfie has not been removed from the Store. I don't have much use for a selfie app, but I just downloaded Lumia Selfie on my 950 a few weeks ago. I just searched the store again, and it is still there, ready to be downloaded.
  • I agree. I tried it a while ago to see if it was anything like the Lumia version and I was SO disappointed. As you said, it's only good for filters really. I like Microsoft Pix though.
  • I just took pic with Lumia selfie 🤳 few minutes ago on my Windows Phone lol, and still working great
  • Yeah, it's still there. Too bad it's a Silverlight 8.0 app I believe.
  • I love the fact that some of the authors are starting to call Microsoft out on "punching" it's fan base "in the face". Kudos.
  • Meanwhile on Windows 10 Mobile, I'm still unable to install Lumia Selfie… -_-
  • I installed it last night on my 950xl. Works well especially using the rear camera which I prefer as the front camera is pretty poor tbh. Not sure if I was only able to install it because I've had it in the past?
  • I accidentally uninstalled Lumia Selfie and in the Store it says that the app is not compatible with my device. Strange as it worked fine on my phone before.
  • Throwing it out there just in case, frome my Lumia 950 there are 18 results in the Store for the search, "Lumia Selfie." My phone seems to be fine with the first one (by "Microsoft Mobile" and not "Development Teams").
  • Perhaps "not compatible" is in regard to what they want you to install. Or not.
  • Another brick in the wall.
  • I think you posted your article in the wrong place, should have been iOS central 😉. Suppose that's what happens if there is no windows mobile news to write about.
  • This comment doesn't make sense. This is a review for an app that originated on Windows Phone, and has appeared on the other platforms. Additionally, Windows Central is the Microsoft hub. This is a Microsoft product so why not review it?
  • Windows Central is the Microsoft hub yet the Windows Central App on W10M is useless. I think iOS Central is more appropriate than Windows Central even if this Selfie App originated on Windows.The article is about an app designed for a different OS. MS is showing a huge lack of commitment to W10M and so is it's hub.
  • It's funny that how Microsoft deleted my selfie app from windows 10 mobile and then release the app for iOS... I can't download the app anymore since I reset this lumia 950... I could use my selfie app normally before now I can't download it
  • It's still there. I just downloaded Lumia Selfie.
  • Before hard reseting my phone I was able to download and delete it, but now after reset i can't download it anymore... It says not compatible with my phone... The only Lumia app I'm able to download It's Lumia creative studio Here is pic... I don't use any insider version... It's just the normal and the latest update windows 10 mobile on lumia 950 https://1drv.ms/i/s!AuJfihZYZeBRpYgu_-xJnRcKOgKXbQ
  • I just tried it out. It's pretty easy to use and not so bad. I like it.
  • If you don't need the filters, I'll suggest giving Microsoft Pix a try too.
  • There are apps where you can take a photo with the default camera app and then load any image into the filter app. there is no need for a selfie app.
  • I can't find Pix in the Store.
  • Bad app and not even available for windows? Wtf alert
  • We've always had one. Open the camera app and switch to the front camera.
  • Yes i know..every smartphone has that. I meant why would they release a bad selfie app when ios and android both have numerous great selfie apps already with bunch of good filters and editing options built-in.
  • Going out on a limb here, but maybe the team behind this little puddle of vomit are the same guys Microsoft have put in charge of turning LinkedIn from a useful professional tool into a featureless wasteland that'll cost in excess of 400% per month more in subscription payments to get those features back. Yeah, in case you hadn't heard Microsoft are apparently experimenting with how quickly they can turn LinkedIn into my space...or worse yet, friends reunited. Remind them? No, me either
  • Why do these kinds of apps keep etting released? You have a camera app with a button that switches which camera is being used. Want a filter? There are apps for that too.
  • Who takes selfies anyway besides people with self-esteem issues and narcissists?
  • Every tourist I see here in Los Angeles.
  • To be fair, you've just described a pretty sizable market.
  • In fact, the whole.
  • Pretty much like 99.999% of the stuff Microsoft is releasing these days. Since Gates and Ballmer left Microsoft, it lives in the toilet, if only somebody had the courage to flush it all away. For every one half ass decent thing they create, they screw up nine others. Way to Micro-Morons. Keep driving customers away.
  • The reign of Satya. We all know what's happening, will say no more but it's pathetic.
  • with microsfts refusal to alow new tabs on desktop to open to a page or home page of my choice, or even hold on to here maps which was awsoeme, or even their refusal to put gestures speakerphone into windows 10 mobile even after 2 years is a joke, add groove and its lack of on other platforms and its very easy for me to agree with you.  Microsft made a great os unfortunatly rebooting old programs like skype and after 2 yerars still not giving us all the features and settings we have been acustomed to kinda speaks volumes.  Its the little things microsft seems intent of screwwing us over on.
  • May those who use selfie sticks be lobotomized further by lightning.
  • I imagine if they weren't / aren't made from plastic, that may very will occur if one is hiking during a storm or when a storm hits lol...
  • Some have actually walked off cliffs to their death.
  • ​Let me get this.  The app for that apple crapy phone is not good?  As a windows phone user I am bothered because?
  • Because people love to be bothered.
  • i dunno, we get reminded that other phones have apps that arent good too?
  • Really? Complaints about a selfie app? Does anyone of any importance really care?
  • I personally think that a selfie app is absolutly pointless when we are already missing so many more important apps.  Google apps for starters, here maps or here go and dont forget microsft owned it at one time which is even more insulting lol, paypal has gone, myfitnesspal has gone, no santander app, no vodaphone uk app, and then theres the whole wireless pay thing missing from windows mobnile phones.  But even if it had a wallet it wouldnt work in the shops here in the uk.  so for me a tiny thing like nokia selfie is a very very distant place compared to what i realisticly need and want.  Are you sure this isnt a article to kinda show windows central to be fair by complaining about a non issue.  I think theres much more jucy stuff to write about like microsft refusal to alow edge users on desktop to open new tabs to a page of their choice(and microsfts continuing lack of listening when p[eople tell them the issue) or gestures beta speakerphone option still after 2 years not suported by windows mobile 10, yet it claims it does inven groove on android doesnt read my s7 edge sd card and well i use play on my ipad air 2 because microsft refuse to make a actual groove app for it. and no the ios app is not a compatable choice.
  • This is an iOS review. Windows app situation doesn't belong here, therefore I wasn't talking about it.
  • First thing wrong with it is iOS. 
    Second thing wrong with it is: Selfie.    Self-absorbed narcissists should all just pop off and shoot themselves with a real camera.
  • Can't possibly be, all I have heard is that Microsoft's apps on other platforms are better than they are on WP10.
  • Is there a native Apple selfie app for IOS?
  • The camera app.
  • This app perfectly reflects Satya s new Microsoft.
  • microsoft develops good app for Android and iOs but not for their own OS.
  • I don't understand why anyone needs a dedicated selfie app. All this whining in the comments about Lumia Selfie... Guys, just press the switch camera button in the default camera, and voila, selfie :P :D And if you want filters, use something like Fhotoroom, Mantissa or Vinci, or even Instagram itself :D
  • Apparently you are using old ported app from dead OS. They have better camera app Microsoft Pix which is for me better than ios stock camera app. But of course; if you go for filter, there's  so much more app and excel on that..
  • Microsoft Pix is a different category. My review on that will be out on this Friday. Also, if you actually read the article, you would know that filters weren't the focus of this review at all.
  • ok but is dennis single........
  • I am ;)
  • Damn bb hmu some time ;)
  • as if the windows app was any better