An auxiliary image used to separate foreground from background with high resolution.
- iOS 12.0+
- macOS 10.14+
- Mac Catalyst 13.0+
- tvOS 12.0+
- watchOS 5.0+
Before iOS 11, the iPhone camera software used depth maps to render a shallow depth of field (the bokeh effect) into still images taken in Portrait Mode before discarding the maps. Because the effect was part of the photo, you couldn’t access the maps separately, as metadata, for photos taken by devices running iOS 10 or earlier.
Starting in iOS 11, apps accessing the photo library can use images containing embedded auxiliary depth maps to render creative depth effects, such as forced perspective, or image projection from 2D to 3D space. These depth maps are low-resolution compared to the full-resolution RGB image. As such, the depth effects you can render are limited by the resolution and accuracy of the maps. Fine detail, such as hair, is challenging to preserve faithfully at the resolution of these depth maps.
Starting in iOS 12, the portrait effects matte helps achieve this fine-grain level of detail.
RGB image resolution
Depth map resolution
Portrait effects matte resolution
Rear dual camera
4032 x 3024
768 x 576
2016 x 1512
3088 x 2320
640 x 480
1544 x 1160
Using the auxiliary matte image, you can improve the quality of rendered portrait effects, such as Natural Light, Studio Light, Contour Light, Stage Light, and Stage Light Mono.
Unlike the depth map, the portrait effects matte isn’t intended to faithfully preserve all gradations of depth in the scene. It’s a depth-guided, people-focused segmentation mask generated from a proprietary Apple neural network trained to detect people. It separates an individual in the foreground from whatever is in the background, with greater detail and clarity than with the depth map alone. It achieves this clarity in part because the matte image has higher resolution than the depth map.
For information about capturing the portrait effects matte, see Configuring Camera Capture to Collect a Portrait Effects Matte. To learn how to extract a portrait effects matte from photos previously captured in portrait mode on a device running iOS 12, see Extracting Portrait Effects Matte Image Data from a Photo.