Apple’s latest iOS 15 beta appears to make some subtle improvements to photos by addressing green highlights that can appear in outdoor photos (via 9to5Mac). News of the feature was posted on the iOSBeta subreddit by Reddit user Doubleluckstur, and The edge was able to see it in action while testing with an iPhone 12 Mini running the public beta.
Many iPhone users are familiar with the green spots, and while taking a photo, it looks like nothing has changed – the lens flare still shows up in the viewfinder. But when you go to see the final photo, the lens flare is nowhere to be found (in some cases, we’ll get to that in a moment). This appears to be the result of all the post-processing done on the image, as the lens flare appears in the alternate (and less processed) frames available if you use Apple’s Live Photo feature.
So far, it’s a bit difficult to know which iPhone models the processing is occurring on. In the Reddit thread, one user also reports seeing the green dot removed on their iPhone XS, while another says it doesn’t work on their iPhone 8 Plus. 9to5Mac speculates that functionality might be limited to phones with an A12 Bionic or newer processor (hence the XS and XR). The feature being only available on newer phones wouldn’t necessarily be surprising: some iOS 15 features, like Live Text or Portrait mode for FaceTime, already have the A12 Bionic listed as a requirement.
Of course, with this discovery, people tried to chase it and find its limits. Reddit user -DementedAvenger- posted examples of shards still appearing on top of trees or insect-proof screens, as well as shards coming from a bathroom light instead of the sun. I was also able to replicate his tree example, as well as get my own flares inside (although it’s interesting to note that these are not the same green bubble flares that come together). so often produce sunlight).
Another limitation is the video: I couldn’t find any scenario where the flares looked different in the final video than they did in the viewfinder. Of course, removing a 30 or 60 fps stray light from 4K footage would be a bit more computationally intensive and more likely to look a bit weird, so it’s not necessarily surprising that the feature seems to be photo only at the moment.
As always with beta features, the functionality we see here could be different with the next release, or disappear altogether. Still, it looks like Apple is at least trying to get rid of the green spots that can appear in images from time to time, and that would be a good thing to see in the final version of iOS 15.