iPhone’s built-in photo tool, like Photoshop.

iPhone's built-in photo tool, like Photoshop.

iOS 17: The Magic of Tap-and-Lift Photo Editing

Apple is set to launch the highly anticipated iOS 17, and one of the most exciting new features is the ability to create stickers and animated stickers from your photos and live photos, respectively. While we eagerly await the release of iOS 17, there is already a fantastic tool in iOS 16 that allows you to make stickers out of your favorite photos.

This tool, which doesn’t have an official name, allows you to separate the subject of a picture, such as a person, from the background with just a tap and hold. As you continue to hold, you can then “lift” the cutout from the photo and use it in other apps, such as making collages or sharing on social media.

Before iOS 16, if you wanted to remove the background from a photo, you would need to rely on apps like Adobe Photoshop. However, Apple has made it incredibly convenient by integrating this tool directly into iOS 16, eliminating the need to download additional apps or set up accounts.

Technically, this tap-and-lift photo feature is part of Visual Look Up, which was first introduced with iOS 15. Visual Look Up can recognize objects in your photos, such as plants, food, landmarks, and even pets. With iOS 16, Visual Look Up takes it a step further by allowing you to easily lift these objects out of the photo or PDF by simply tapping and holding.

During the WWDC (Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference), Robby Walker, Apple’s senior director of Siri Language and Technologies, showcased the tap-and-lift tool using a photo of a French bulldog. In a smooth demonstration, Walker tapped and held on the dog, lifted it from the background, and shared it in a text message. According to Walker, “It feels like magic.”

While Apple sometimes overuses the term “magic,” this tool truly lives up to the hype. The advanced machine-learning model powering this feature utilizes core machine learning and Apple’s neural engine to perform a staggering 40 billion operations per second. The amount of processing and machine learning required to cut out a dog from a photo is both impressive and thrilling.

The tap-and-hold tool may not be revolutionary or solve a significant problem, but it does address the issue of removing a photo’s background, which can be a significant concern for some users. It’s these small but delightful features that continue to enhance the overall user experience of Apple’s devices.

Interestingly, the tap-and-lift feature in iOS 16 is reminiscent of another photo feature found in the same update. On the lock screen, the photo editor separates the foreground subject from the background of your wallpaper, allowing lock screen elements like the time and date to be layered behind the subject but in front of the photo’s background. This adds a sleek and magazine-like aesthetic to the lock screen.

As an avid user of the Visual Look Up feature in iOS 16, I can attest to its speed and reliability. It’s remarkable how quickly and accurately it identifies objects in photos, and now with the tap-and-lift capability, it has become even more versatile.

The upcoming release of iOS 17 promises to further enhance the photo editing experience on Apple devices. With the addition of sticker and animated sticker creation, users will have even more creative options to express themselves. So get ready to unleash your imagination and create captivating visuals with iOS 17’s magical tap-and-lift photo editing feature.