Beautygate: Did Apple secretly add an 'always-on' beauty mode to new iPhones?
WTF?! The iPhone XS and XS Max have been out for a little over a week now. Reviews of the new handsets have mostly been positive. However, users are beginning to notice something strange with the front-facing camera.
Lewis Hilsenteger of Unbox Therapy said he noticed that when he uses the front-facing selfie camera that the resulting image looks odd — like it has been touched up or airbrushed (video above). At first, he thought it might have been related to Apple’s new “Smart HDR” technology. Unfortunately, after turning off Smart HDR in the settings the skin smoothing remained.
Several users on Reddit have noticed the same effect, and there does not appear to be any way to turn it off. Other phones and camera apps have a beauty mode built in, but users can either disable it or dial it all the way down using a slider. The iPhone XS and XS Max camera apps don’t have any settings related to beautifying or skin smoothing to turn off or adjust.
Hilsenteger speculated that it might be hardware related and therefore would not have a setting to disable it. However, while covering his face with his hand and then removing it, one can see the smoothing and color effects occur — almost like makeup is being magically applied. This effect would seem to indicate that something is happening at the software level.
There is nothing inherently wrong with having a selfie camera with a beauty mode. After all, enough people use these types of tools that it has become a feature in many apps. The problem is that maybe some people don’t want to look like they are wearing makeup.
“It looks like I’m wearing foundation,” said Hilsenteger.
Indeed, if Apple added this as a feature, it a) did not leave a way to turn it off, and b) included the mode without informing the consumer. Since users are being forced to wear virtual makeup and Cupertino failed to even mention it, the whole thing has earned itself the nickname Beautygate on Reddit.
If the effect is indeed a software filter, then Apple should be able to add a setting for it in a future patch. If it is something else — well, we will just have to wait to see what happens. At the very least, the consumer should be informed about the quirk before paying the hefty premium for Apple’s newest flagships.
Image via Unbox Therapy