Apple didn’t announce any significant AI updates during its Worldwide Developers Conference keynote today, but it did quietly roll out some minor computer vision upgrades with its latest iPhone software, iOS 17. In addition to now letting users turn their own photos into stickers by cutting out the subject of their photos, another new feature called Visual Look Up will allow users to search for recipes directly from a photo.
The addition wasn’t among those previewed during the keynote itself, but rather popped on a teaser page for iOS 17 on Apple’s website after the fact.
There isn’t much detail about how it will work, though it appears to be fairly straightforward from the looks of it. In iOS 17, photos of food will be identified as such, and you’ll then be able to search for similar dishes. For instance, in the photo illustrating this on the page, photos of bowls of quinoa lead to suggested recipes for other quinoa meals, and specifically breakfast foods, as shown in the photo. If this works as described, it could be a handy way to get inspiration about what to cook, without having to search across the web, though it’s not likely going to be able to guide you to the specific recipe for the dish pictured.
The addition, however, is another example of how Apple is subtly redirecting users away from Google Search by having them start their queries directly on the iPhone. In this case, the search results provided would link users to the recipe’s website, bypassing Google, while in years past Spotlight improvements saw users skipping a Google search to reach Wikipedia pages or to look up information on actors, movies, shows, and musicians from special cards that appear in Spotlight’s search results.
Spotlight’s only major update this year isn’t focused on web searches, though, but rather showcases something called “Top Hits” — or common app shortcuts — when you search for an app. For instance, a search for Photos may suggest shortcuts like Recent or Favorites.
Elsewhere in iOS 17, the Visual Look Up improvements will allow users to pause videos to then look up information on the subject by tapping on an info icon.
The same tool will let you look up info on the subject that you cut out of your own photo — a feature introduced last year with iOS 16. One of the more entertaining additions at the time, you can “pick up” an object from a photo with the press of your finger. The system can identify pets, plants, landmarks, and other objects in your photos. The image cut then be pasted into a text message or in other applications.
With iOS 17, Apple will let you turn these cutouts into a sticker. Through the new Live Stickers feature, users can cut out the subject of their own photos, or now, paused videos, to save as stickers, which can also include effects. The stickers can then be accessed across iOS 17, including in third-party apps.