Is ‘Pet Portrait Mode’ Actually a New iPhone 11 Feature? Yes (and No)

Iphone 11 Colors 2 Credit: Apple
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Apple says the iPhone 11 can now take Portrait Mode pictures of your favorite four-legged friends. But “Pet Portrait Mode” isn’t actually a new feature, and there appears to be some confusion around that fact.

Portrait Mode has long been able to detect pets and objects. If you own an iPhone X, XS or XS Max, you can test that out for yourself. But the iPhone 11 isn’t technically a successor to those devices — it’s an update of the iPhone XR.

Pet-detecting Portrait mode appears to be listed as a new feature because it wasn’t present on the iPhone XR. While dual-lens iPhons have always been able to detect pets in Portrait Mode, the iPhone XR wasn’t, presumably due to its lack of a second lens.

So the actual news is not a new “pet portrait mode,” it’s the fact that Apple’s mid-range handset can now take Portrait Mode photos of pets and objects.

It’s worth noting that some third-party apps, like popular camera platform Halide, have been able to add pet and object detection to their own apps (even on the iPhone XR).

Similarly, as we’ve covered in the past, Apple actually made machine learning-based dog and cat detectors available to third-party developers in its latest software updates. It’s based on the same technology that allows you to search for “dog” or “dog” in the Photos app.

While that’s not the same thing as pet portrait mode, it could presumably allow more developers to introduce pet detection in their own apps. That could be useful for anything from third-party portrait modes to pet-specific facial filters.

Along with a second lens and the ability to detect pets and objects in Portrait mode, the $699 iPhone 11 also features an A13 Bionic chip, improved durability and water resistance, new color options and more.

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