In iOS 16, currently in beta, Apple has enhanced its Visual Look Up capability for photos by making it possible to isolate the subject of a picture from its background so that you can copy it to the clipboard for use elsewhere or share it in another app. In this article, I’ll show you how to isolate, copy and share subjects from Photos in iOS 16.
Technically, the tap-and-lift photo feature is part of Visual Lookup, which was first launched with iOS 15 and can recognize objects in your photos such as plants, food, landmarks and even pets. In iOS 16, Visual Lookup let you lift that object out of a photo or PDF by doing nothing more than tapping and holding. Now, apps like Photos recognize the subject and background of an image, which gives users new superpowers across the OS.
Subject detection in photos appears in places like the iOS 16 Lock Screen which can use the subject of a photo to obscure the clock. Images that take advantage of this feature don’t have to be Portrait photos with depth data — subject detection uses machine learning algorithms.
However, the feature isn’t limited to the Lock Screen. Users can take advantage of image subject detection across the OS using a new whimsical tool called “lift subject from background.”
How to Isolate, Copy & Share Subjects from Photos in iOS 16
Here’s how it works: You tap and hold on a photo to separate a picture’s subject (like a person) from the background. And if you keep holding, you can then “lift” the cutout from the photo and drag it into another app to post, share or make a collage for example. Here are the steps:
- Launch Photos and select an image from your library containing a well-defined subject.
- Press and hold on the subject until it ripples and a white glow flows around its outline.
- In the popup menu that appears, tap Copy to send the isolated subject to the clipboard for pasting elsewhere, or tap Share… to access the standard sharing options in the Action menu and send it on its way.
- Alternatively, press and hold the subject to lift it from the background. Now, without taking your finger off the screen, use another finger to exit the Photos app and launch Messages, Mail, Notes, or another app that accepts images.
- Now drag and let go of the subject to place it where you want in the input field.
That’s all there is to it. You can even use it in paused frames in videos. The feature works not just in Photos, but also in screenshots and the Quick Look feature in the Files app.
As mentioned, the feature uses advanced machine learning and image analysis, therefore it is only available on phones with the A12 Bionic or newer chip. The A12 Bionic processor debuted in 2018 in the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and the iPhone XR, so you need to be using one of these iPhones or a later model for it to work.
That is all you need to know about how to isolate, copy and share subjects from Photos in iOS 16.