Using Live Text in iOS 16.1

iOS 16.1 has arrived and includes a number of new features, including Live Activities, iCloud Shared Photo Library, and new collaboration tools.

It’s not all about new features though, and the update also brings a massive update to iOS 15’s excellent Live Text feature that arrived last year.

The smart feature became incredibly useful from the beginning, allowing users to extract phone numbers, addresses and much more from images. The good news is that it’s going to get even better this year — here’s what’s new for Live Text and how to use it in iOS 16.

What is Live Text and what’s new in iOS 16.1?

(Image credit: Future)

Live Text, in its simplest form, allows you to manipulate text in an image. Whether you snapped a photo of a great looking restaurant menu or snapped a photo of a business card so you don’t forget, iOS Live Text lets you copy the text and use it to send a message, a note, use an email address or call.

This is done using on-device intelligence, but that does mean you’ll need an iPhone XS, XR, or newer.

It also works on iPad, although with iPadOS 16 being slowed down, you’ll have to use iOS 15 features for now.

However, if you have an iPhone that can run iOS 16, the new main feature for Live Text this year is the addition of text from video content.

The idea is that if, for example, you pause an educational video and need to fetch some of the data to add it to your notes, you can do so by pausing the video and highlighting the text.

Another great new feature is the inclusion of “Quick Actions” for Live Text. For example, it allows you to take a photo of text in another language and translate it directly.

Other quick actions available include starting an email when finding an email address, calling phone numbers, converting currency and much more.

Using Live Text in iOS 16

Live Text from iOS 16 works in much the same way as it did in iOS 15, only with the addition that the same technique can be used to extract text from a video image.

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Using live text in the camera

(Image credit: Future)

In the iOS Camera app, hold your device so that the text is clearly visible on your screen and tap the icon that resembles a barcode scanner in the corner of the viewfinder.

Doing so displays the Live Text overlay and allows 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 your clipboard so you can paste it into an app immediately.

(Image credit: Future)

In the example above, you can see that Live Text gets a bit confused into thinking the image is upside down, but if you copy the text it will of course revert to the correct orientation.

Using Live Text in the Photos app

(Image credit: Future)

The same process applies to images and videos in the Photos app. Just tap the aforementioned “Barcode” button and you will be given the option to “Copy all” or highlight individual parts of the text.

This can be especially useful if you don’t have time to hover over and copy some information – just grab a photo or video and come back to it in your own time.

Using live text in the Translate app

(Image credit: Future)

One of the great additions in iOS 16 is that you can access Live Text via the impressive Translate app. If you haven’t used the app before, you can find it in your app library or through a Spotlight search.

Once you’re in, there’s a new option at the bottom of the screen to open the camera. It doesn’t translate in real time as far as taking a photo, but the app works incredibly fast.

You can also choose the language afterwards, which means that if you need to translate a sentence into multiple languages, you can do it easily.


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