“Beautygate” Problem Vanishes with Latest iPhone Update, Natural Faces Now Default for Better or Worse


The ill-fated attempt at making everyone more beautiful through AI has failed.

Image via Apple.

Of course, we’re being cheeky and the so-called “Beautygate” issue plaguing iPhones was nothing more than a software glitch.

But, still, it made headlines and for all of the wrong reasons. The most recent update, iOS 12.1, has eliminated the smoothing at the heart of the controversy and the results speak for themselves.

We have to admit, it was a bit jarring to see so many selfies slathered in a fine coating of Vaseline but we’re not surprised it was all a software error and not an intended feature.

The problem stems from iOS’s vaunted Smart HDR feature. The problem arose with the Smart HDR choosing the wrong base photo. Preferencing longer shutter speeds over shorter ones, the base photo appears blurry because of this. This is because, naturally, a long shutter speed results in a blurrier photo in general, particularly when compared to those of shorter speeds. The resulting smoothing was not the product of a filter or photo editing, but this blurring effect from the longer shutter speed.

The fix released this past Monday corrects this preference and the front-facing camera will choose photos with the shortest shutter speeds for selfies, according to a report from PetaPixel.

Other than the “Beautygate” scandal that wasn’t really a scandal, the launch of the new iPhone XS and iPhone XR has largely gone off without a hitch. The company’s focus on bringing the best experience possible to its phones is no surprise when you factor in just how seriously manufacturers take selfies. Easily one of the most common “genres” of photograph found on social media platforms, the selfie, and a smartphone’s ability to take a good one, is often bench marked by design teams and touted by marketing as proof of a headset’s prowess. That’s why Apple jumped on this issue, and quickly.

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Kehl is our staff photography news writer and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here

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