A tweet by user ellieeewbu revealed that searching “brassiere” in the Photos app on iPhones categorizes photos featuring bras automatically into a group. Women have been responding to the tweet posting screenshots with similar results. Most searches show photos of lingerie, bikinis, bare skin, or in some cases, memes.
Should the fact that “brassiere” is a category at all be concerning? Or is it more alarming that most people didn’t know that image categorization was a feature at all?
Image recognition was introduced with iOS 10 in June 2016, when the Photos app was updated with deep learning for object and scene detection. Apple stressed during the keynote, as well as on its website, that all object detection is done completely locally on the device.
“It’s true,” Teigen stated with a screenshot of evidence from her own search. “If u type in ‘brassiere’ in the search of your iphotos, it has a category for every boob or cleavage pic you’ve ever taken.” The most important part of her tweet, however, is the last part, which simply asks: “Why.”
For the record, Google Photos does the exact same thing when you search “brassiere,” except your photos are stored on the cloud, in Google’s servers. If anything, this should be the bigger security concern that’s freaking out people on Twitter.