We said this a couple of months ago, and we’re sticking to it now: the new background removal and image cutout feature is the most fun thing to come out of iOS 16. Yes, Lock Screen widgets and customizations are useful, but you’re probably not going to tinker with them every day.
For folks who don’t know about this feature, iOS 16 lets you “pick” any object from a photo and save it as a separate transparent image — just like a background removal tool. The feature is present in the system in various contexts, assisted by Apple’s CoreML tech.
Now that the feature is available widely to users, they’re putting it to use in different ways.
One of the more interesting use cases is that of an iOS 16 user who is cataloging his daily outfits in the Notes app. As demonstrated in a video, the user (@macaulay_flower on TikTok) used the background removal feature to grab a clip out of himself whenever he changed outfits and pasted it to a note to catalog his different looks.
Inspired by this use case, ex-Apple employee Matthew Cassinelli then automated the process through a Siri Shortcut, which he shared on Twitter.
After installing this shortcut on your iPhone, you’ll see an “Outfit of the Day” option in the Share Sheet. You can then go to any image with an outfit, hit this button from the Share Sheet, and the cutout will be saved to an eponymous note.
This isn’t the only way users are exploring this new feature.
One of our favorite use cases for this feature is to automatically catalog images into different folders — for food, shopping, pets or memes, for example.
To that end, we made our own nifty shortcut that removes the background from an image then places it into a folder named “Background removed.” You can use the “Remove Image Background” option from the Share Sheet to trigger it. It’s fairly rudimentary, so you will need to manually create the folder first before using the shortcut. For creating different categories, you can simply copy the shortcut and rename it.
The background removal feature is pretty great, but it only picks up objects that are in the focus area of the photo — even if there are multiple of them. We hope Apple will introduce more advanced object separation and editing tools for collage-making in the Photos app in future versions of the feature.