In 2010 we reported that Apple snapped up a Swedish company called Polar Rose that specializes in face detection algorithms. Less than a year after this purchase, we have discovered what Apple actually intends to do with this software. Besides the fun Photo Booth effects that are now found in the OS X Lion implementation of Photo Booth – Apple will take their new face recognition knowledge to the next level with iOS 5.

Apple is not specifically planning to launch an iOS 5 application that relies on their face detection technology, but plans to do something much more important. Open up facial recognition as a public developer API for iOS 5 applications. The implications of this are obviously vast. Most importantly, an easy way for developers to integrate the sought after technology, with vast amounts of uses, into their App Store applications.


We have taken a look at these iOS 5-exclusive APIs and they are highly sophisticated. The first, called CIFaceFeature, can determine through an image where a person’s mouth and eyes are located. The second API, CIDetector, is a resource within the operating system that processes images for face detection.

This presumably would power face detection via live motion imagery. The significance of this finding is that Apple is making face detection an even easier feature for developers to implement. Perhaps this is even a sign that Apple is working on some new iOS applications that take advantage of the software. Maybe Apple will even port OS X Lion Photo Booth’s face detection feature to the iOS version.

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