FaceTime function in iOS 13 fakes visual contact during video calls

Zoom in / Cameras on the iPhone are becoming (selectively) smarter

Apple has introduced some of its main features imminent iOS 13 during WWDC, but people who play with the closed beta version have discovered some additional tools. A new addition is FaceTime Attention Correction, which adjusts the image during a FaceTime video call to make it look like a person is looking in the camera rather than on their device's screen.

In practice, this means that while you and your contact look at each other's faces, both will seem to make direct visual contact. Mike Rundle and Will Sigmon were the first in Tweet to find it, and they describe it as a mystery, "shit of the next century." Another beta tester, Dave Schukin, postulated that the function is based on ARKit to create a map of a person's face and use it to inform the adjustments of the image.

The function seems to be distributed on iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max with the current beta test. It will get a wider publication to the public when iOS 13 is officially released, which is likely to happen in the fall.

Apple has introduced more and more image-centric features that change automatically. It has given its cameras tools such as Smart HDR, which analyzes and composes multiple frames for the "best" shot or automatic reductions in the effect of shaky hands. Usually, these tools are optional, although you may need to dig into the device's settings to make sure the tools are turned off rather than on by default.

It is a perfect application of Apple's augmented reality tools, which are certainly impressive and powerful. But how many people are asking out loud for this feature? Is there a real advantage in making it look like we're looking at each other's windows towards the soul when we're FaceTime?

There is an argument in favor of making the video chat experience more natural, but there is a fair argument against forcing an appearance of intimacy or attention. Eye contact is one of those subtle signals that varies from person to person. If someone who rarely meets my gaze suddenly seems to do so all the time in a video call, this will make our interaction more surreal, not less.

There's no reason why we should pretend that digital photography is exactly like film photography. The simplicity of point-and-click on a smartphone allows anyone to capture a scene without hardware or special knowledge. And with editing tools ranging from Snapchat filters to Lightroom, you can edit an image to fit any aesthetic you want.

But adding more and more tools to automatically make a more "perfect" visual appearance is only useful if you believe in this definition of perfection. Do you want to be idealized or do you want real? It is not a judgment that everyone wants their smartphone to do for them.

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