iPhone users will soon be able to get their hands on iOS 16, Apple’s latest mobile operating system. Officially, it’s slated to arrive “later this year,” but given Cupertino’s consistent release schedules over the years, it’s virtually guaranteed to be released next month, soon after the usual new iPhone event.
We’ve had a play around the public beta ahead of the new software being seeded out, and there’s one new feature that stands out – and I’m pretty sure you guys will find plenty of use for it, too.
Lift subjects from photos and isolate them
If you’re anything like us, you make lots of stickers of your friends to make WhatsApp chats more personal (and maybe just to ridicule them a little bit). Normally, cutting out the subject from your photos can be a bit of a faff, requiring either Photoshop or an incredibly steady finger to trace the outline.
You’ll soon be able to skip all of that thanks to an improved Visual Look Up, Apple’s answer to Google Lens that unfortunately isn’t available in Malaysia. Thankfully, this one feature of the company’s AI-driven image recognition system is available for us to use – the ability to lift a subject straight out of a picture.
All you have to do is long press a photo in your camera roll and the phone will automatically (and almost instantly, I might add) do the trimming for you. This also works in some Apple apps, such as Safari – just select “Copy Subject” when you long press an image. As with Portrait Mode, the edge detection isn’t flawless and the images can sometimes end up jagged, but it’s good enough for most purposes.
Impressively, the photo doesn’t need to be taken from that iPhone, nor does it need to be a Portrait shot – literally any image can be used. This feature can even isolate subjects in videos, although you do have to pause them to do so. It also doesn’t work all the time, at least in our testing. And no, unfortunately, you can’t cut out subjects from YouTube videos.
One caveat – the improved Visual Look Up only works on devices with the A12 Bionic (i.e. the chip in the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro) and later. This means that even if you have the iPhone 8 Plus or iPhone X with Portrait Mode, you won’t be able to take advantage of this seemingly magical technology.
Saving PNGs and turning them into instant stickers
Apple says you can drag your subjects into other apps like Messages, but the real killer app is the ability to save them as a standalone PNG image, replete with transparency. Once you select your subject, you can simply tap “Share…” and then “Save Image”.
From there, the world’s your oyster – you can either send the photo as is or import it into your favourite sticker maker. You can also skip this whole step by selecting “Copy” after the long press, then pasting directly into the sticker maker (although you have to deal with iOS 16’s new pasteboard permissions first).
After that, just crop the image to your liking, choose the outline you want, then export it to your messaging service of your choice. And you’re set!
Other noteworthy iOS 16 features
By now, you’d probably have heard of the many features coming to iOS 16, most notably the enhanced customisation of the lock screen. Other additions include new notification options, a “live activities” display on the lock screen, the ability to undo sent iMessages and emails, multi-stop routing in Maps and a new Fitness app for those without an Apple Watch.
But there are a few other new bits that you may not have known about, such as lock screens that can be assigned to specific Focus modes, making the distinctions between them clearer. Recent public betas also finally added the battery percentage indicator that was removed on notched iPhones, although this is still not enabled on the iPhone X, XS, XR and 11, along with the smaller 12 and 13 mini. Another feature I have found particularly useful is the ability to translate images on foreign-language websites.
And as is typical of Apple’s focus on privacy and security (except where VPNs are concerned, apparently), there are several new functions designed to keep you safe – we’ve detailed them here. As you can imagine, most of these features also apply to iPadOS 16, including the ability to lift subjects from a photo.