iOS 16.1 is here, and it comes with a variety of new features, including live activities, iCloud shared photo library, and new collaboration tools.
It’s not just about new features, though, and the update also brings a big update to iOS 15’s excellent Live Text feature that arrived last year.
The smart feature became incredibly useful from the start, allowing users to grab phone numbers, addresses, and more from images. The good news is that this year is getting even better – here’s what’s new with Live Text and how to use it in iOS 16.
What is Live Text and what’s new in iOS 16.1?
Live Text, in its simplest form, lets you manipulate the text found in an image. Whether you’ve taken a picture of a great-looking restaurant menu or a picture of a business card so you don’t forget, iOS Live Text will let you copy the text and use it to send a message, create a note, use a email address or make a call.
This is done using on-device intelligence, but that means you’ll need an iPhone XS, XR or later.
It will also work on iPad, although with the delay of iPadOS 16 you will have to use iOS 15 features for now.
If you have an iPhone capable of running iOS 16, however, the main new feature of Live Text this year is the addition of extracting text from video content.
The idea is that if you pause, for example, an educational video and you need to pull in some data to add it to your notes, you can do that by pausing the video and highlighting the text.
Another big news is the inclusion of “Quick Actions” for Live Text. This allows you to take a picture of text in another language, for example, and instantly translate it.
Other quick actions available include initiating an email when finding an email address, calling phone numbers, converting currency, and more.
How to use live text in iOS 16
iOS 16 Live Text works the same way as iOS 15, only with the addition of being able to use the same technique to extract text from a static video.
Use live text on camera
In the iOS Camera app, hold your device so the text is clearly visible on the screen and tap the icon that looks like a barcode scanner in the corner of the viewfinder.
Doing so will open the live text overlay and allow you to highlight portions of the displayed text. You can also tap the “Copy All” quick action in the corner, which will copy all the text to the clipboard so you can paste it into an app right away.
In the example above, you can see that Live Text gets a little confused thinking the image is upside down, but copying the text will naturally revert it to the correct orientation.
Use live text in the Photos app
The same process applies to images and videos in the Photos app. Just tap the aforementioned “Barcode” button and you’ll have the option to “Copy All” or highlight individual parts of the text.
This can be particularly useful if you don’t have the time to hover and copy some information – just grab a photo or video and come back to it in your own time.
Use live text in the Translator app
One of the big additions in iOS 16 is being able to access Live Text through the impressive Translate app. If you haven’t used the app before, you’ll find it in your App Library or through a Spotlight search.
Once inside, there’s a new option at the bottom of the screen to open the camera. It won’t translate in real-time as you need to take a picture, but the app works incredibly fast.
You can also choose the language after the fact, which means that if you need to translate a sentence into multiple languages, you can do it with ease.