Apple AI-enhanced Photo Editing: A Leap in Consumer-grade Image Manipulation

Apple, the tech giant known for its innovative and user-friendly products, is hinting at a significant upgrade in its software lineup. The company’s website recently showcased an interactive teaser that suggests the introduction of a new version of the widely-used Photos app. This version is expected to incorporate generative AI, enabling everyday users to access editing capabilities akin to those offered by professional software like Photoshop.

The teaser, which appeared on Monday, transformed the logo for Tuesday’s event into an interactive element that users could partially or entirely erase with their mouse. Initially, this was interpreted as a hint towards an upgraded Apple Pencil. However, it might also suggest an enhanced editing feature that Apple intends to launch later this year.

The Clean-Up Feature

Sources close to Apple’s next-generation operating systems have revealed that the company is testing an advanced feature for its built-in Photos app. This feature, known as “Clean Up” in the pre-release versions of Apple’s macOS 15, is found in the edit menu of the new Photos app, alongside existing options for adjustments, filters, and cropping.

The Clean Up feature seems to be a replacement for Apple’s Retouch tool, available in macOS versions of the Photos app. Unlike the Retouch tool, Clean Up is anticipated to offer superior editing capabilities, including the option to remove larger objects within a photo.

With Clean Up, users can select an area of a photo using a brush tool and erase specific objects from the image. Testers of the internal versions of the app can also adjust the brush size for easier removal of smaller or larger objects.

While the feature is currently being tested on Apple’s next-generation operating systems, the company might decide to preview or announce it earlier to promote its new iPad models.

Apple AI-enhanced Devices

At the upcoming “Let Loose” event, which is centered around the iPad, Apple is expected to unveil two new models of the iPad Air and iPad Pro. The latter is rumored to feature the company’s next-generation M4 chip, which could introduce enhanced AI capabilities via an improved Neural Engine, including an increase in cores.

Previous rumors suggested a high likelihood of Apple’s new iPad Pro receiving the M4 system-on-chip. Apple is also likely to market the new tablet as an AI-enhanced device, following the branding of the M3 MacBook Air as the best portable for AI.

Although Apple has been developing its in-house large language model (LLM) for a while, it is doubtful that any text-related AI features will debut at the “Let Loose” event. However, the Clean Up feature could serve as a demonstration of the new iPad’s AI capabilities.

Apple AI

If Apple decides to showcase the new Clean Up feature before its annual developers conference in June, it could promote its new iPads as AI-equipped devices. Allowing users to remove an object from a photo with their Apple Pencil would effectively highlight the practical benefits of artificial intelligence.

By showcasing real-world applications for AI, Apple aims to outperform existing third-party AI solutions, many of which only use artificial intelligence for short-term entertainment purposes, such as chatbots.

What other AI features can we expect from Apple?

  1. Generative AI in Photos App: Apple is expected to add new AI-based editing tools to its Photos app. This could include using AI for summarization, smart reply suggestions in Messages, and using AI across apps like Apple Music, Pages, and Keynote.
  2. iOS 18 AI Features: The upcoming iOS 18 update is rumored to bring a host of new AI features. It could be the most significant update since the original iPhone, with new tools fueled by the company’s large language model.
  3. AI Servers with M2 Ultra and M4 Chips: Apple is reportedly building its own AI servers that use the M2 Ultra chip. This could significantly enhance the AI capabilities of Apple’s devices.
  4. Siri Overhaul: There are speculations about a major overhaul of Siri, Apple’s smart assistant. The new Siri might be able to understand and respond better, handle multiple tasks at once, and even understand app screens and the context behind them.
  5. AI in New iPad Models: The new iPad models are expected to feature the company’s next-generation M4 chip, which could introduce enhanced AI capabilities.