5 Ways to Copy Subject on iPhone on iOS 16

iOS 16 gets you numerous new features and improvements, including making it incredibly easy to copy an object or person from an image or even a video. This takes away the hassle of spending hours isolating subjects from the background and reduces the process to a few simple taps. 

Furthermore, you have various ways to copy the subject in a photo or video on your screen. Here’s how you can take advantage of this feature on your iOS device.

How to Copy Subject on your iPhone on the iOS 16 update

You can copy subjects from most stock apps where you can access or add supported media files. Here’s how you can get started on your device. 

Method 1: Using Safari

Open Safari and navigate to the URL of the image from where you wish to copy your subject. 

Once the image is open on your screen, tap and hold on the same. Select Copy Subject from the context menu. 

Note: If this option is unavailable, open the image in full screen or in a different tab.

The selected subject will now be copied to your clipboard and you can now paste and share it anywhere you like.

You can even paste the copied image into a photo or video editing app on iOS. 

Method 2: Using the Files app

You can isolate a subject in the Files app in two different ways. Firstly you can either create a new image with only the subject and the background removed.

Alternatively, you can choose to isolate and copy the subject to your clipboard for easy sharing. Follow either of the options below depending on your current preferences.

Note: You can only isolate subjects from Photos when using the Files app. If you wish to Copy Subject from a video then you can Save it to the Photos app first and then use the section below to isolate your subject.  

Option 1: Create a new image without the background

Open the Files app and tap and hold on the image or video from where you wish to lift a subject.

Select Quick Actions.

Tap Remove Background.

A new image will now be automatically created in the same location without the background.

You can now use this image in any app you like. 

Option 2: Copy Subject from a Photo

Open the Files app and find the image from where you wish to Copy Subject. Tap on the image once found.

 

Tap and hold on the subject and a context menu should pop up.

 

Select Copy.

The isolated subject will now be copied to your clipboard. You can now paste and use it in any compatible app.

And that’s how you can isolate and copy subjects using the Files app. 

Method 3: Using the Photos app

Open the Photos app and tap on the photo or video from where you wish to isolate and copy a subject.

If you selected an image tap and hold on the subject.

If you selected a video, then first scrub and pause at the frame with your subject.

Now tap and hold on the same.

Select Copy from the context menu. 

The subject will now be added to your clipboard. You should now be able to use it in any compatible app on your iOS 16 device.

Method 4: Using the Notes app

Open the Notes app and navigate to the note containing the image or video from where you wish to copy a subject. Tap and open the same.

If you selected an image, then tap on it again.

The background should turn black. Now tap and hold on your subject.

If you selected a video, then scrub to the frame with the subject that you wish to copy.

Tap and hold on the same.

Note: Visual Look Up seems to be facing intermittent bugs in the Notes app. If it fails to activate for you, then try switching to the landscape mode or try restarting the app.

A context menu will appear on your subject. Select Copy from the same.

The subject will now be copied to your clipboard. You can now paste and use the same in any compatible app on your device.\

And that’s how you can copy subjects using the Notes app. 

Method 5: Using the Messages app

You can also copy subjects from photos shared in the Messages app. Use the steps below to help you along with the process.

Open the Messages app and navigate to the conversation with the concerned image. Tap on the same in your conversation.

Now tap and hold on the subject you wish to copy. 

Select Copy from the context menu. 

The subject will now be copied to your clipboard and you can now paste them into any compatible app. 

How to use Copy Subject in unsupported apps and file types

Copy Subject is a pretty cool feature however, it is currently only supported in limited apps which makes it difficult to extract subjects from unsupported apps and file types. Thankfully, Apple allows you to extract subjects from screenshots which means that we can use this to our advantage and extract subjects from virtually anything. Here’s how you can get started on your iOS device. 

Open the unsupported app or file type from your iOS device from where you wish to copy your subject. We will be using a GIF for this guide.

Find your subject and simply take a screenshot on your device. You can take a screenshot by pressing the Lock and Volume Up button on your device at the same time.

Now go to the Photos app and open the screenshot we just took.

Tap and hold on your subject to isolate them. 

Now tap Copy.

The subject will now be copied to your Clipboard. You can now paste them into a compatible app and share them as needed.

And that’s how you can isolate subjects from unsupported apps and files.

Things you should know about Visual Look Up in iOS 16

Visual Look Up and its subsequent feature Copy Subject is fairly new, and here are a couple of things that you should keep in mind when using this feature. 

File Types supported by the Copy Subject feature

The Copy Subject feature can only be used with supported file types, these mainly include Photos, Live Photos, and videos. Only Live Photos taken on your device are supported by this feature and similarly, image file formats and video file formats supported by iPhones are supported by Copy Subject. Here is a list of all the file formats supported by this feature. 

  • Images: TIFF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, DIB, ICO, CUR, and XBM.
  • Videos: M4V, MP4, MOV, and AVI. 

File Types unsupported by the Copy Subject feature

There are bound to be media file formats unsupported by Copy Subject and here are some prominent ones that you should keep in mind. 

  • PDF
  • eBOOKs
  • GIFs
  • Image file formats unsupported by iOS
  • Video file formats unsupported by iOS

Supported Devices

In addition to the media file format requirements, you will also need an iOS device that is equipped with A12 Bionic or higher. 

Copy Subject uses deep machine learning and onboard AI to process your images. This requires significant hardware components currently only supported by A12 Bionic chips or higher. 

What subjects can be recognized and copied by Visual Look Up?

Apple has improved its image recognition algorithm significantly, and you can now isolate the following subjects from your photos apart from people. 

  • Insects
  • Animals
  • Birds
  • Statues

FAQs

Here are a few commonly asked questions about Visual Look Up that should help answer some burning questions. 

Are my media files shared with Apple when copying a subject?

There is very little information on this with only Apple’s Image Processing Privacy Policy to go off of, which implies that some of your data is indeed shared with Apple Servers but never used by the company. 

On the other hand, hardware requirements for A12 Bionic and higher imply that image isolation and processing are done on-device with no data being shared to the cloud. Future iOS releases should help shed some more light on this subject. 

How good is the Copy Subject feature?

The Copy Subject feature works pretty well however, in our testing it seems to struggle in images with a lot of text or images using the Greyscale filters. 

Can I drag and drop copied subjects?

Yes, simply tap and hold on the subject and drag them around to isolate them from the background. You can now switch apps and drop the subject in a compatible field. 

Can third-party apps use this feature?

For now, it seems that Apple hasn’t released an API or SDK for Visual Look Up to third-party developers. This leads many to believe that this feature currently will be unsupported by third-party apps. 

We hope this post helped shed some light on the Copy Subject feature in iOS 16 and how you can use it on your device. If you have any more questions, feel free to drop them in the comments below. 


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