Forward-looking: Social distancing has affected many aspects of everyday life. While not something most people would consider important, it’s also made taking group selfies pretty much impossible—but Apple has been granted a patent that could solve this issue.

As discovered by Patently Apple, the technology works by creating a synthetic group selfie, pulling in images from other devices and collating them into a single picture. A user can invite others to take part, with the images coming from photos, stored video, and even live streams. The software then automatically arranges them into a group selfie.

Users get to keep the original selfie and the group version, and everyone who gets a copy of the group image will be able to modify it if they wish—expect some people to place themselves in a more prominent position.

The patent doesn’t specify which Apple products would support the feature, be it iPhones, iPads, or both, but it sounds like it could appear on both devices.

While it might appear that Apple came up with the idea specifically because of social distancing measures, the patent was first filed back in 2018, though it was only granted on June 2nd.

Apple could unveil the synthetic group selfies at WWDC on June 22, where Cupertino will announce the new features appearing in iOS 14 this fall. It would certainly be interesting to see the technology on the iPhone 12 and other devices, but, as is the case with all patents, there’s no guarantee it’ll ever move beyond the ideas stage.

Image credit: Roman Samborskyi