Apple May Be Testing Auto Lens Flare Removal for iPhone Photos

Apple appears to have added a feature in the latest iOS 15 operating system beta that will automatically remove the “green orb” lens flare that is common when a bright light appears in the frame, but only in certain circumstances.

Noticed by MacRumors, a discussion among some users on Reddit appears to have found instances where the iPhone is performing some kind of background image processing that automatically removes the green dot lens flare from photos.

Apple has strongly relied on its image processing to improve the quality of images in new iPhones, and this change appears to be baked directly into the upcoming operating system. In two images posted on Reddit (and shared below via Halide), Apple appears to have created an algorithm that will automatically remove flare from photos in specific circumstances after the photo is taken. The two photos show post-photo processing on the newest beta where the final still shot from a live photo appears without the “green orb” lens flare.

Once pointed out, other beta testers agreed that the change was visible on their devices as well, but not in every circumstance.

“It doesn’t appear to do it when the flare is on certain surfaces, like trees or through screens,” one Reddit user has reported. “It does fine for grass, sky, and most other textures though!”

He later adds that it doesn’t seem to work with bathroom lights either, and may only work well with the sun.

“It’s pretty inconsistent.”

One other Reddit user pointed out that they were able to see the lens flare in a photo taken with an iPhone 12 Pro, but when they revisited the photo later in the day they noticed it had been automatically removed.

“So I’ve noticed something that I haven’t seen reported elsewhere; whilst out and about I took this photo and thought it was ruined/needing to be edited later due to the lens flare (as I’ve done numerous times in previous photos with the iPhone 12 Pro as it’s so prone to lens flares),” they write. “However, I got home and noticed the lens flare has automatically gone in the original photo despite it being obviously there still in the live photo, meaning the automatic post-processing has gotten smart enough to remove lens flares now!”

PetaPixel reached out to Apple, but the company did not immediately reply.

iOS 15 is still currently in testing and will not ship to all users until this fall.