Apple has acquired a small French startup called Regaind, according to multiple sources, and it is extremely concerning when it comes to its renewed focus on privacy. As always, Apple is very quiet when it comes to acquisitions, but it’s always interesting to learn more about Apple’s interests. The latest Apple acquisition is concerning, as it gives clues to its future plans.
When asked about the Apple acquisition, the company stated:
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
Well we all know that This is Apple’s standard statement to confirm an Apple acquisition. We learned that Apple acquired a company known as Regaind earlier this year. The company had raised a bit less than $500,000 (€400,000) from the company Side Capital. Regaind has been working on a computer vision API to analyze the content of photos. Apple added intelligent search to the Photos app on your iPhone a couple of years ago. For instance, you can search for “sunset” or “dog” to get photos of sunsets and your dog. But the latest Apple acquisition could suggest it is headed further down this path.
In order to do search your photos, Apple analyzes your photo library when you’re sleeping. When you plug your iPhone to a charger and you’re not using your iPhone, your device is doing some computing to figure out what’s inside your photos. But the latest Apple acquisition of Regaind goes one step further and can tell you the technical and aesthetic values of your photos. It can actually score them! For instance, if you shoot a bunch of photos in burst mode, Regaind could automatically find the very best shot and use it as the main shot in your photo library. Regaind could also hide duplicates, make suggestions, or even tell you what looks best about the photo. Talk about artificial intelligence.
Furthermore, with this technology, Apple could even improve the Memories tab in the Photos app. It could create more categories. Currently iOS automatically creates albums based on events, location and more. With Regaind, iOS could also look for photos that are visually similar, surface the best shot as a cover art and create a recap video with the best shots. It could even make recommendations.
Interestingly, Regaind also analyzes your face to determine your gender, age and emotion. It’s unclear if Apple had enough time to leverage Regaind with iOS 11, but it could most certainly be a mainstay in 12. Apple may have combined Regaind technology with the new Face ID sensor in the iPhone X to reinforce animoji facial expressions for instance.
Whatever the case may be, Apple has recently reiterated its focus on privacy, so it’s going to be interesting to learn more about Apple’s integration of Regaind’s technology when it comes to privacy. However, it could mean later operating systems will have some really advanced features for photos, but the privacy concerns are major.