Apple to fix iPhone XS selfie smoothing with iOS 12.1

After the beauty-gate brouhaha, Apple's tweaking the Smart HDR algorithm for selfies in the forthcoming update to iOS.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
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Spot the difference: iPhone X on left, XS on right.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

If you're among those distressed by the new Apple  iPhone XS' propensity for plastic-skinning your high-contrast selfies, you can relax now: The fix for beauty-gate is in. Or will be in, once the current beta of iOS 12.1 goes live.

The facial smoothing, first thought of as an unwanted "beauty mode" by some users on Reddit and YouTube, turned out to be isolated to the front camera's new Smart HDR mode. HDR modes shoot multiple frames at different exposures and then merge them to create a single frame with an optimized exposure.

Now Apple has confirmed the Smart HDR algorithm wasn't choosing the sharpest image to anchor its HDR merges, resulting in a loss of texture detail. iOS 12.1 will fix the issue by picking a sharper base frame. The Verge earlier reported the update. 

The company has tweaked the algorithm in the current beta of iOS 12.1, and separately confirmed to us that a future software update will allow previews of the portrait mode's depth effect before shooting on the iPhone XR

Watch this: Explaining the iPhone XS 'beauty mode'

We take the iPhone XS Max to Fleet Week

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