A new iOS 13 beta includes a new feature that should combat the uncanny valley effect when using FaceTime to talk to friends.
The third developer beta adds a feature that can make it look like you’re looking directly at your front-facing camera in FaceTime chats, faking eye contact so it looks like you’re paying more attention.
The feature was spotted by app developer Mike Rundle, who noted that it only seems to work on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max currently, and can be toggled on and off using FaceTime’s settings, by hitting the toggle for “FaceTime Attention Correction.”
It’s a huge shift for video calls, which often look like the participants are looking off in different directions because they’re looking at their screens and not the camera transmitting their image.
This video by Twitter use Dave Schukin shows how the trick works, and if you look closely you can see as the glasses arm passes in front of the eye it is distorted by the same process that’s “correcting” for eye contact.
It’s achieved by ARKit, and is mapping out a users face before adjusting the position of their eyes to make it look like they’re holding your gaze.
It all feels like some future tech, and it’s bloody impressive to see in action. We’re in the dark about what devices this will work on with the release of iOS 13. Presumably the new iPhones and the devices that it is already working with, but there’s no word on whether it will reach back to older iPhones, or indeed if it will work with Facetime calls using iPad and MacBook devices, too. We’ll get to try it out for ourselves in the near future, as a public beta for iOS13 is expected next week.