Sharing photos with the people who are in them is about to get easier. Apple has applied for a patent titled Systems and methods for sending digital images, which uses facial recognition to identify individuals in a photo. The iOS camera already uses facial recognition to improve its focus on subjects. By taking the next step and figuring out who's pictured, iOS can tap associated contact information already stored on the iPhone.
The patent describes a system that would automatically create a list of the people shown in a photo, or provide a dialog box next to an individual with sharing options such as email or text messaging. In this way, the photographer can quickly decide who will receive a copy of the image and how it should be sent to each contact.
Much like the OS X Photos app automatically identifies people in a photo library, Apple envisions a cloud-based service that would learn specific faces and share this information with the camera app on an iPhone. Not only would Apple's proprietary facial recognition software be used to instantly identify the people featured in new photos, but images from the past could be tagged with people's contact information for sharing purposes. Look for more facial recognition-based features in future versions of iOS.