New iPhone app can take group selfies –even when you're not with your friends

New iPhone app can take group selfies –even when you're not with your friends

Ever find that you can never get the perfect group selfie, where everyone is smiling and no one is blinking? How about simply taking a group selfie with your friends during the current lockdown, when nobody is in the same place?

Apple has come to the rescue, in its increasingly tough bid to make the iPhone the best camera phone (opens in new tab), and created an app that generates synthetic group selfies, doing the hard work for you and bringing distant friends together.

The patent application ‘Generating Synthetic Group selfies’ (opens in new tab), spotted by DPReview (opens in new tab), details a system that enables users to capture multiple individual selfies, over multiple different mobile devices. This means that everyone can get the best shot of themselves without the stress of having to meet or squish into the same frame.

To use the app, a host user starts by sending out invitations to participate in the group selfie. Each participant then shoots their own solo image and sends it over to the original user's device. If you wish, the app has the potential to limit the distance from which invites can be sent from the first user (meaning that only people physically at a given event or location can be in the shot, such as gigs or weddings).

The app then generates the finished picture using computational imaging, cutting all the subjects from the individual images and arranging them in one shot that looks like a real group selfie. 

Apple's Synthetic Group Selfie app could change the way we take group photographs on iPhone

Apple's Synthetic Group Selfie app could change the way we take group photographs on iPhone

Heads will be staggered in rows, making sure that all the faces fit the gaps in between those in front of them, which would also be optimized depending how many people want to be in the image. Finally, a background image – which can be either the host's original background or a completely new one – can be chosen. 

The finished synthetic photo can be stored with the original collection of selfies, while giving users the means to swap and change the participants round – meaning that multiple group self portraits can be created of a meeting that may never have even existed.

With Apple losing ground to the latest handsets in the spec stakes, it seems that the company is fighting back with innovation and apps rather than getting in a pure tech firefight to give us the best iPhone for photography (opens in new tab)

The big question is, will this feature be among the new tech and innovations present in the upcoming iPhone 12 (opens in new tab)

Read more:

The best camera phone: ultimate smartphone cameras on test (opens in new tab)
Best iPhone for photography (opens in new tab)
Best iPhone tripods and supports (opens in new tab)

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.