TechCrunch has learned that Apple has acquired a small French startup called Regaind, according to multiple sources. As always, Apple is very quiet when it comes to acquisitions, but it’s always interesting to learn more about Apple’s interests.
We’ve reached out to Apple and the company sent us the following statement: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
This is Apple’s standard statement to confirm an acquisition. From what I understand, Apple acquired Regaind earlier this year. The company had raised a bit less than $500,000 (€400,000) from Side Capital.
Regaind has been working on a computer vision API to analyze the content of photos. Apple added intelligent search to the Photos app on your iPhone a couple of years ago. For instance, you can search for “sunset” or “dog” to get photos of sunsets and your dog.
In order to do this, Apple analyzes your photo library when you’re sleeping. When you plug your iPhone to a charger and you’re not using your iPhone, your device is doing some computing to figure out what’s inside your photos.
Regaind goes one step further and can tell you the technical and aesthetic values of your photos. For instance, if you shoot a bunch of photos in burst mode, Regaind could automatically find the best shot and use it as the main shot in your photo library. Regaind could also hide duplicates.
With this technology, Apple could improve the Memories tab in the Photos app. iOS automatically creates albums based on events, location and more. With Regaind, iOS could also look for photos that are visually similar, surface the best shot as a cover art and create a recap video with the best shots.
Interestingly, Regaind also analyzes your face to determine your gender, age and emotion. It’s unclear if Apple had enough time to leverage Regaind with iOS 11. Apple may have combined Regaind technology with the new Face ID sensor in the iPhone X to reinforce animoji facial expressions for instance. And I’m sure there will be more to come.
It’s also unclear if Apple plans to get Regaind’s model to work on Apple’s devices directly. Apple has recently reiterated its focus on privacy, so it’s going to be interesting to learn more about Apple’s integration of Regaind’s technology when it comes to privacy.