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Image Editing and Photo Booth for iOS Surface in Apple Patent

A few days after Apple released the first beta of iOS 4.3, several developers and bloggers did a little bit of digging into the SDK and new firmware file to find out whether Apple had  managed to hide references to new hardware and features into iOS 4.3. iPad camera files aside, icons for FaceTime and Photo Booth surfaced, as well as strings in the code that pointed to new camera effects finding their way to iOS. These effects looked very similar to the ones used by Apple in the iPod nano fifth generation: X-Ray, thermal, light tunnel, kaleidoscope, and so forth.

A new patent design uncovered by Patently Apple today confirms that engineers and designers at Cupertino have been studying the implementation of Photo Booth with image effects for iPhones and iPads, but the most interesting part is perhaps the adoption of image editing features system-wide, configurable in the settings, that users will also be able to manipulate with sound, motion, GPS and touch.

Apple’s patent application generally relates to techniques for applying one or more image alteration effects to image data displayed on an electronic device. In certain disclosed embodiments, the application of such image alteration effects may be triggered based upon the detection of certain device operation events, which may include audio-related events, motion-related events, location-related events, or events relating the imaging properties.

The Photo Booth and image editing options reside in the Settings and apparently have access to content coming from the iPod Video app, Camera and Photos application. Events that can trigger photo manipulation include audio, location, motion and “camera data”. Looking deeper into the patent design and the possibilities offered by these settings, it appears that Apple has been developing ways to alter audio and motion with various effects, lightning, sharpness and exposure. Camera effects include X-Ray, Nightvision, Thermal and Glow. Patently Apple reports:

Apple’s patent FIG. 12 illustrates how an image alteration may be triggered by a “shaking” motion. When you’ll shake a chosen image on your iPhone as shown below for given amount of time, you’ll be able to change the background color or change to another effect like the spiral (as noted in patent figure 19 above) or to a water reflection or even a zoom effect. The effects also apply to video, according to Apple’s patent. What other effects could debut will likely be introduced at the time of the apps release.

Several screenshots of the design are available here, as well as a detailed look at the events that can trigger photo manipulation. It is pretty much obvious at this point that the iPad 2 will come with a FaceTime camera, and we’re curious to see whether Apple will pull out a new version of FaceTime that takes effects from Photo Booth and displays them on the tablet’s screen.

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