How Apple addressed the 'beautygate' effect in iOS 12.1

Posted:
in iPhone
In this video, we compare selfie photos captured by two iPhone XS Max handsets, one with the latest iOS 12.1 update and another running iOS 12.0.1, to illustrate the fixes Apple implemented for so-called "beautygate" skin smoothing effects.

Beautygate
iPhone XS selfie comparison.


As a brief refresher, Apple with its latest iPhone XS and XS Max models introduced a new camera feature called Smart HDR that greatly increases the dynamic range of both still photos and videos by combining multiple frames captured at different exposures.






Due to its implementation, Smart HDR can in some cases lower local contrast and introduce noise in low light photos, the latter of which is dealt with using fairly aggressive noise reduction.

Last month, users taking selfies noticed the Smart HDR feature would smooth out their skin to a point that made resulting photos appear doctored. Known as "beautygate" -- a term implying Apple intentionally enabled the effect -- the issue was ultimately tracked down to a software bug that at times selected the wrong base frame for HDR processing. Instead of choosing a frame with a short exposure and more detail, Smart HDR would opt for a frame with a longer shutter speed.

Under many conditions, the extra noise reduction on iPhone XS made skin appear soft, even when compared to selfies taken with iPhone X. In brighter conditions, however, "beautygate" becomes a nonissue because frames are captured at short exposure times, meaning there is no need for enhanced noise reduction.

Apple corrected the Smart HDR quirk with iOS 12.1, released last week.

Comparing photos captured on identical hardware, the difference between iOS 12.0.1 and iOS 12.1 is immediately apparent. The beauty filter look is now gone, though there is also noticeably more noise.

If we crop in, the difference in noise is easy to see if you look at the wall.




Before the update, the long exposure base frame with extra noise reduction smoothed out all of the details, making facial hair and pores look blurry.

Now adding a little bit more light, there isn't as much of a difference, but the same differences are apparent by cropping in. Some of the pores on the left look smoothed out, whereas with iOS 12.1, everything is super sharp. Not only that, but if you look closely, you'll notice that there's a little bit more contrast after the update.




Now moving directly in front of a window, it's hard to notice any difference at all since noise reduction isn't a factor anymore.

However, you'll notice that there's a little bit more contrast with 12.1, just by looking at the pores. The extra contrast is more easily noticeable if you look at the gray sweater.




Moving outside, it's hard to notice a difference, but if you look closely, the extra contrast is definitely there. It's easily noticeable if you look at the eyebrows.

Again, in this photo, we see the same results. It's a very subtle change but it definitely makes a difference. There is a general increase in detail across all of these photos as well.

In some photos, the contrast difference is more noticeable. Compare the difference in detail in the stones below and you'll notice all of the fine details come out after the 12.1 update thanks to the extra contrast. The shadows on the lawn look darker with 12.1 and the tree itself looks more detailed with the added contrast.




Though Apple addressed the "beautygate" issue with iOS 12.1, the switch to a shorter exposed base frame reintroduces some extra noise. Along with that, it seems that Apple toned down the warmth of iPhone XS photos a bit.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    maxitmaxit Posts: 205member
    I like how they fixed a basically non existent issue. It clearly was just a little bug
    bb-15guscatbala1234watto_cobrajahbladejony0
  • Reply 2 of 23
    Apple ExposedApple Exposed Posts: 15unconfirmed, member
    Now it shows my freckles! Fire Tim Cook! I'm switching to droidz! #AppleisDoomed
    chasmlkruppAppleExposedguscatwatto_cobrajahbladejony0
  • Reply 3 of 23
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,431member
    Software issue fixed with software update. I am amazed!+1 amazed I tells ya!
    SoundJudgmentbb-15guscatwatto_cobrajahblade
  • Reply 4 of 23
    The 12.1 'Fix' seems to have cured some people's artificially-induced psoriasis as well.
    edited November 2018 watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 23
    Grateful you didn't use Max as the examples! LOL
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 23
    bb-15bb-15 Posts: 242member
    The quality of flagship phone cameras has improved so much that the tech media will obsess over the smallest details which imo would not be noticed by 99% of smartphone users.  
    guscatwatto_cobrajahbladenetmageStrangeDays
  • Reply 7 of 23
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,530member
    Now it shows my freckles! Fire Tim Cook! I'm switching to droidz! #AppleisDoomed
    You’re being sarcastic but I think there will be that exact reaction eventually. Trashing Apple no matter what they do is a cottage industry and YouTubers have actually successfully monetized it. 
    edited November 2018 williamlondonguscatwatto_cobrajahblade
  • Reply 8 of 23
    RabbitkunRabbitkun Posts: 4unconfirmed, member
    Well it's nice to know they've addressed the issue. I guess one developer has forgotten that he/she left the skin smoothing by default.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 23
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 216unconfirmed, member
    lkrupp said:
    Now it shows my freckles! Fire Tim Cook! I'm switching to droidz! #AppleisDoomed
    You’re being sarcastic but I think there will be that exact reaction eventually. Trashing Apple no matter what they do is a cottage industry and YouTubers have actually successfully monetized it. 
    Oh I've seen them criticize Apples security and claim it's better for terrorists so it's bad. The sad part is you can no longer tell if someone's being sarcastic online. I've literally seen people post like this with bad spelling and grammar.

    They also defend data mining and ads.....
    guscatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 23
    Whether the smoothing effect was deliberate or accidental, I'm glad it's fixed. Noise reduction and skin smoothing can both be accomplished with software after the photo is taken. If I want that effect, I can get it with very little effort. Recovering detail from a smoothed photo is NOT a trivial task (impossible in practical terms) so I'd prefer it not be the default setting. That way I can choose.

    Maybe Apple will make the smoothed effect an option in a future version of iOS! :)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 23
    • [iOS 12.1] Fixes an issue where the sharpest reference frame was not always selected in front-facing photos for iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT209084

  • Reply 12 of 23
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,884member
    None of these photos looks focused or at their native size. I’ve tried tapping on them to see if they’re linked to proper sized versions and I get nothing.

    Also: no one has addressed the same problem with hair? When photographing pets, the aggressive de-noise effect has been especially egregious.

    But yeah, I know, no one can tell, and photographers are mocked for claiming to be more attentive. Especially hard for the average person to know what’s going on when articles only serve up images that aren’t scaled or focused correctly. 
    guscatwatto_cobrawilliamlondon
  • Reply 13 of 23
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,431member
    Can anyone else see a likeness to a young Tom Hanks here?
  • Reply 14 of 23
    lkrupp said:
    Now it shows my freckles! Fire Tim Cook! I'm switching to droidz! #AppleisDoomed
    You’re being sarcastic but I think there will be that exact reaction eventually. Trashing Apple no matter what they do is a cottage industry and YouTubers have actually successfully monetized it. 
    It gets very tedious reading comments by people who act like everything Apple does is absolutely the worst thing in the Western World, and that it's constantly on the verge of complete collapse. This mentality on the part of a few people has been around since before the iPhone. It's just stupid.
    watto_cobrawilliamlondonStrangeDays
  • Reply 15 of 23
    lkrupp said:
    Now it shows my freckles! Fire Tim Cook! I'm switching to droidz! #AppleisDoomed
    You’re being sarcastic but I think there will be that exact reaction eventually. Trashing Apple no matter what they do is a cottage industry and YouTubers have actually successfully monetized it. 
    Oh I've seen them criticize Apples security and claim it's better for terrorists so it's bad. The sad part is you can no longer tell if someone's being sarcastic online. I've literally seen people post like this with bad spelling and grammar.

    They also defend data mining and ads.....
    I like the way some of the Android fanboys make it seem like Apple is the evil empire while Google is some noble company, and data mining is fine. They don't get that some people may be troubled by it.
    watto_cobrawilliamlondonStrangeDays
  • Reply 16 of 23
    I’m a huge apple fanatic but I have to admit , I’m disappointed in the camera so far .
    In most cases pictures are amazing but with certain lighting, like at sunset the camera has a very strange Color correction that it does automatically and it doesn’t go away by turning off HDR, I was just at the Grand Canyon and I was pictures of the canyon as the sun was setting but the parts of the canyon that were highlighted by the remaining sun created some
    really unnatural color in the pictures, a really ugly red , so it feels like that beauty gate continues as far as I’m concerned 
    but I feel like they won’t ever  realize it 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 17 of 23
    I have to pop in to say that Vadim looks very handsome in both versions... he would even look handsome on an Android!! (;
    williamlondon
  • Reply 18 of 23
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,518member
    lkrupp said:
    Now it shows my freckles! Fire Tim Cook! I'm switching to droidz! #AppleisDoomed
    You’re being sarcastic but I think there will be that exact reaction eventually. Trashing Apple no matter what they do is a cottage industry and YouTubers have actually successfully monetized it. 
    You don’t mean … FRECKLEGATE!
  • Reply 19 of 23
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,518member
    Mmmm. 

    Took on a photo of my lawn with the new phone. Took the same photo at night, and everything seemed much different. I would have thought that Apple had the technology to make every single picture of my lawn look exactly the same. 

    #gardengate



  • Reply 20 of 23
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,518member

    guscat said:
    lkrupp said:
    Now it shows my freckles! Fire Tim Cook! I'm switching to droidz! #AppleisDoomed
    You’re being sarcastic but I think there will be that exact reaction eventually. Trashing Apple no matter what they do is a cottage industry and YouTubers have actually successfully monetized it. 
    Oh I've seen them criticize Apples security and claim it's better for terrorists so it's bad. The sad part is you can no longer tell if someone's being sarcastic online. I've literally seen people post like this with bad spelling and grammar.

    They also defend data mining and ads.....
    I like the way some of the Android fanboys make it seem like Apple is the evil empire while Google is some noble company, and data mining is fine. They don't get that some people may be troubled by it.
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/nov/01/google-walkout-global-protests-employees-sexual-harassment-scandals

    Since the mass walkout of Google employees over claims of endemic racism and sexual harassment, and the company handing millions in hush money to the problems under the radar, their fan base has been suspiciously quiet. 

    🤔
    williamlondonStrangeDays
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