By Jason Snell
September 13, 2016 10:55 AM PT
What’s new in Photos for iOS 10
Note: This story has not been updated for several years.
The release of iOS 10 marks the debut of a bunch of major new features to Apple’s Photos app. By far the biggest change to Photos is the addition of a comprehensive machine-learning algorithm that scans the contents of your photos to automatically identify people, objects, settings, and other items in your images without any help from you.
With both macOS Sierra and iOS 10, all the images in your Photos libraries will be scanned millions of times with machine-learning algorithms to identify faces, as well as more than 4,000 different scenes or objects. Every time you take a photo in iOS 10, Apple will scan that image for any possible information and use that metadata in several different ways. For all the photos already in your library, well—your device will need to scan them all, one at a time. That will take time and use a whole lot of processor power, so be sure to leave your iPhone plugged in overnight after you upgrade so that it can stealthily scan your photos while you sleep.
Photos exposes all the faces that it identifies via its new algorithms in the new People album. The rest of the machine-learning data is best discovered via the search box. Objects Apple identifies—including things like dogs, cows, and beaches—are organized in Categories, and you can search for them just by typing whatever you can think of. If you type dog, Photos will show you all the photos it thinks might feature dogs.
Another major addition to Photos is Memories, automatically generated collections of your photos. To create a Memory, Photos selects photos based on location, time, and even the people identified in the photos. You can tap on the header image at the top of any memory to view an automatically generated video highlight reel for that memory, a collage of audio and video clips that’s assembled by iOS. You can also tap on the clip and edit it, choosing a mood from a palette of choices such as Uplifting and Chill, and a length (Short, Medium, or Long). If you really want to go to town, you can add or omit items, pick custom music, and adjust the length down to the second.
The new Places album lets you browse all of your photos based on where they were taken. Maps are also more prevalent throughout Photos, most notably in Memories.
A new Details view lets you see more information about any given photo in your library. Open an image and then tap the Details button or just scroll. You’ll see the people Photos has identified as being in the photo, the location where the photo was taken (with an address, a map, and an option to show other photos taken nearby), a set of Memories related somehow to the contents of your photo, and even a link to see all the photos taken on that particular day.
Those “related Memories” links spread throughout Photos are cleverly generated based on the metadata gleaned from Apple’s machine-learning algorithm. An image of a baseball game offered other outings to the ballpark; an image of my mother offered collections of her various visits to our house and ours to hers.
When you’re viewing details of a photo, you can teach Photos the name of the person it detected by tapping one of the faces in the People section. Photos opens a screen for that face, with a collection of photos, related groups and people, places where that person was spotted, and related collections of photos. At the very top of that screen, tap the Add Name header and enter in the person’s name. Photos suggests names based on the Contacts list, but you can also assign a name that isn’t currently in Contacts. If you identify a person that’s already in People, Photos offers to merge the two entries into one.
I’m finishing up a new edition of my Photos Crash Course ebook that will cover a whole lot more about Photos on macOS Sierra and iOS 10. When it’s ready to go we’ll announce that here at Six Colors.
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