Future iPhones could merge multiple selfies into a group shot


Group selfies can be be awkward. Apple has a possible solution.
Group selfies can be be awkward. Apple has a possible solution.
Photo: 20th Century Fox

Crowding a group of people into a selfie can be challenging. Seems someone always ends up halfway out of the picture. Apple has a solution: it’s developing a way to automatically combine multiple images into a group selfie.

This could become a part of iOS 13 this fall, perhaps as a new feature in the iPhone XI.

Challenges of group selfies

Apple understands the problem. It points out, “While capturing an individual selfie can be accomplished easily since only the user needs to be placed within the field of view of the image capturing device, capturing a group selfie can be much more difficult since the user must arrange the user and the user’s friends within the field of view of the image capture device when capturing the group selfie. Thus, an easier mechanism for capturing a group selfie would be advantageous.”

It’s filed a patent on “Generating Synthetic Group Selfies.” The application says these are “an arrangement or composition of individual selfies obtained from a plurality of computing devices into a single group image.”

Apple proposes using not just selfies as a source, but also pulling still images out of video. The resulting faces can be arranged by the user.

Synthetic group selfies seem sensible

Assembling a group image from a collection of selfies is already possible for someone with Photoshop skills. Apple is simply considering automating this process and having it happen in an iPhone.

Tech this company already has is likely to be useful. A necessary part of taking a Bokeh image with a single-lens camera, like the one in the iPhone XR, is identifying the person or people in an image so everything else can be blurred. That same identification system could be used to pull that person out the image, then they could easily be pasted into another picture along with images of their friends.

Synthetic group selfies could well debut in iOS 13, but this patent application isn’t a guarantee. Companies regularly patent ideas that never come to fruition.