One of iOS13’s new features is one that corrects your eye contact during FaceTime calls. It’s most certainly clever, but is it a bit too freaky as well?
As of iOS 13 Beta 5, the Attention Correction feature has been removed from iOS 13 and iPadOS. Continue reading to learn more about the feature and how it worked. If the feature makes it back into iOS 13 and iPadOS prior to its release. As a journalist I’m increasingly asked to make interviews via Skype, WhatsApp or FaceTime but two things really get my goat. One is the quality of the service which even over a decent WiFi connection still causes almost unworkable buffering and crashes (Skype being the worst culprit). The second is that I’m generally typing what my interviewee is saying. Even with my very best touch-typing skills (clue: not that great) I’m basically heads down over the keyboard which isn’t a good look when you are trying to elicit information from someone.
Facetime Attention Correction is issue?
Apple has come up with an answer, by artificially re-instating the line of sight between callers using FaceTime. The new feature, FaceTime Attention Correction, makes it look like you’re staring directly at your front-facing camera during calls, rather than at the device’s screen. It simply looks like the person calling is looking right at you, instead of your nose or your chin. you can always share screen on facetime to find out the errors and issues.
FaceTime’s video calling is great, except for one thing — how you have to stare directly into the camera for the person on the other end to feel like you’re looking at them. It’s only natural to stare in the center of your iPhone, Mac or iPad screen, where your caller’s face actually appears. This awkward shifty-eyed shuffle is about to end.
Apparently, the effect is being achieved using ARKit to grab a depth map/position of your face, and then adjust the eyes accordingly. If you didn’t know about it then you’d probably never guess the effect was being applied. Plus, you can turn the function off.
Facetime will cause errors
The feature appears to only be rolling out to the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max but will get a wider release when iOS 13 officially goes live, later this year. It isn’t something the internet has been clamouring for but now it’s here perhaps this will become the new socially accepted norm.
Except that of course you won’t be looking into someone’s eyes. The effect will be faked. Will that interfere with social discourse? If eyes are the windows to the soul then meaningful conversation will grind to a standstill.
I’ve placed a few calls with the new feature, and the family members I talked to had a hard time telling when I was looking at the screen and when I was looking at the camera. It’s kind of creepy, but at the same time pretty darn cool.
Extrapolating that, future AI/AR enhancements could make it appear as if we’re really truly listening to someone (a loved one?) when in fact we’re picking our nose or yawning.
Here’s how to turn on Attention Correction on your iPhone:
Open the Settings app.
Select FaceTime from the list of options.
Slide the switch next to Attention Correction to the On position.
Exit the Settings app.
We’ve asked Apple for more information about how the feature works and will update this post when we learn more.
Why not change the location from where we actually are, at someone else’s home or on the beach, to appear at home or on the train. It could change our clothing or remove other people from the background.
It need not even be you on the call but someone pretending to be you (I haven’t worked out why that would be needed but Mission Impossible has been trading off such deep fakes for years).
The truth is already up for debate so when we can manipulate and change any part of an image in realtime in pixel perfection where do we draw the line and how do we separate real from simulacra?
Or does the simulacra become the new truth?
We’re straying waaay too far from what is after all a tiny tweak to make video calls a little less weird.
Now, can someone sort out how to make video calls work consistently without crashing, bugs or delay my life will be complete.