While iOS 11 didn’t receive much attention at Apple’s Fall 2017 Keynote, the company did announce a few new updates to its mobile operating software. Namely, a new Portrait Lighting mode and AR optimization for the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X.
Portrait Lighting Mode
Portrait Lighting mode is a new feature added to Portrait Mode that automatically applies studio lighting effects to photos taken with an iPhone. Like Portrait Mode, the feature allows for a shallow depth-of-field effect, but also adds five different lighting “styles.”
It uses the proprietary Apple image signal processor installed on the A11 Bionic CPU to recognize an environment, create a depth map, and separate the subject of a photo from the background. The system then uses machine learning to create what Apple calls “facial landmarks,” allowing it to add lighting contours to various regions of the face. This all happens in real time.
Portrait Lighting will be restricted to the rear-facing, dual camera on the iPhone 8 Plus. On the iPhone X, however, it will be available on both the rear- and front-facing cameras.
Like was previously predicted, the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X are the first mass-market smartphones optimized for augmented reality experiences. While iOS 11 will introduce augmented reality on the software side (via the ARKit development toolset), the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X all have hardware-side tweaks to better the overall AR experience.
For example, the A11 Bionic CPU in the iPhone 8 lineup and the iPhone X is powerful enough to handle world tracking and environment recognition in real-time. The Apple-designed graphics processing unit and image signal processor are also built from the ground up to optimize AR content.
The cameras on the iPhone 8 Plus are also specifically tailored for AR by way of individual calibration and new gyroscopes and accelerometers for much more accurate motion tracking. The iPhone X’s rear-facing camera module shares these upgrades, but also adds new capabilities for developers to create AR content specifically for its front-facing TrueDepth camera suite.