Is Apple ‘Beautygate’ Actually a Real Thing? Techies Say No
Another day, another Apple controversy. Although nearly 64% of all Americans owned an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or other Apple product in 2017, that doesn’t mean that every user experience is a positive one. And while the newest iPhone models — the X and XS — have come with a lot of excitement, some new owners of the XS (pronounced “10 S”) have been surprised and even upset by how good their selfies now look. It may sound strange, but there’s been some outrage surrounding the new camera — and there’s a theory that Apple included an undisclosed beauty filter in an effort to make consumers look better than they theoretically should. But is the Apple Beautygate controversy even based on fact?
There’s little doubt that the images captured by the iPhone XS look different than those taken even with the iPhone X. Users definitely took notice and started to theorize that the XS was smoothing out their selfies, possibly via a filter that Apple never mentioned — an idea being referred to as “beautygate.” Although there might be some iPhone XS owners who would rather take these kinds of images from the start rather than relying on retouching, like the 85% of people who have struggled with acne, others were infuriated by the possibility.
But now, a photography expert has debunked the idea that the differences in photo quality perceived by users are caused by a hidden filter. Photography app developer Sebastiaan de With revealed that Apple has made significant improvements to its photography software with this latest model. For one thing, the XS’s camera shoots at a higher ISO and has a faster shutter speed than other versions. This means more photos can be taken at a faster rate. When the XS merges these exposures, sharpness and noise are reduced — resulting in a decreased contrast and a smoother image result. Essentially, the dark and light points of the image aren’t as stark in contrast; because Apple has amped up the noise reduction to compensate for changes, some details are removed. That’s why it may seem like there’s a beauty filter on your selfies.
The good news, says de With, is that Apple can tinker with some of these settings in the future — and they may, if there’s enough negative customer reaction to make them take another look. But if you’re a current owner of the XS, keep in mind that the current changes can allow you to take better-looking selfies in low-light situations. And while some users are still complaining about the adjustments, others are thrilled with how great their photos look now. Whether it’s a completely realistic representation of your visage or not, you might not hate being able to achieve more attractive selfies all the time.