iOS 12.1 Will Put An End To iPhone XS/XR ‘BeautyGate’ Once And For All

A group selfie on a sandy beach.
View Apart / Shutterstock

First, it was antenna-gate, then bend-gate, then battery-gate. It has become a favorite sport in the tech world to find something about a new iPhone or iOS upgrade with which to be hypercritical. The first one to turn that detail into a full-blown scandal, wins… or something like that.

This year, it’s “beautygate.” If you couldn’t find anything wrong with those stellar iPhone XS cameras, it is only because you were not looking hard enough. Those who more fully applied themselves to finding something to critique found that faces seemed to be a little more smoothed in photographs shot from the iPhone XS as opposed to the iPhone X.

The critics were absolutely correct. There is a difference in the amount of detail. Samsung does it on purpose — and considers it a feature, calling it a beauty mode. Apple insists that they were not going for any such effect.

The Verge explains the problem in their article, “iOS 12.1 will improve selfie quality on the iPhone XS and XR.”

“Essentially, Smart HDR was choosing the wrong base frame for HDR processing when you took a selfie. Instead of choosing a frame with a short shutter speed to freeze motion and preserve detail, it would sometimes choose a frame with longer shutter speed. The front camera also does not have optical image stabilization, so it takes blurrier shots at the same shutter speed as the rear, stabilized camera. The result is a loss of detail that looks like smoothing on the front camera.”

Woman taking selfie
  By baranq / Shutterstock

The problem is an overdone implementation of the new Smart HDR feature that is a part of Apple’s new computational photography stack. Because this is a byproduct of a software application, it can be fixed via a software or firmware patch — and that is exactly what Apple intends to do.

iOS 12.1 is currently being beta tested. You can jump into the beta program any time, testing the new feature right now should you choose to. Apple recently released the fifth version of the beta. While no one can say for sure when the final release will be available, sometime near the end of this month — or early next — is a reasonable enough bet.

Apple has also recently announced a special event, where it is anticipated that they will announce new iPads. It is a given that those new iPads will have novel features which will require an OS update. It is also a likelihood that iOS 12.1 will be ready for the launch of the new iPad lineup at the very latest.

We should know more by October, 30 — which is when Apple’s special event in Brooklyn is set to take place.