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Your iPhone Is Using Machine Learning to Chronicle All Your Bra Pics

A tweet about the bizarre ‘brassiere’ category raised some eyebrows.
Image: Pexels

If you're alive and have a smartphone in 2017, there's a good chance you've either taken or received some sexy photos on your phone. But what you may not realize is that if any of those images include someone wearing a bra, your iPhone may be identifying them as photos with bras, making them searchable in the photo app.

It's already well known that iOS 11 included some advanced updates to the phone's artificial intelligence, and this includes improving the photo app's ability to identify and categorize what is in each of your photos. There are thousands of objects the phone can identify, ranging from "abacus" to "zucchini." Weirdly, despite not having categories for, say, "nude," or "underwear," there are multiple categories for bra: brassiere, bandeau, bandeaus, bra, bras, and brassieres.


Searching for this folder in your photos app may reveal an unexpected surprise, as a tweet on Monday demonstrated:

Members of the Motherboard team were able to confirm similar results on their devices. I tested it out by saving a few photos of lingerie models on my phone and, sure enough, the photos app quickly identified and labeled them:

Image: Screen grab from iPhone photos app

Though there are some pretty archaic terms like "homburg," "habiliment," and "danseuse," the "bra" category is unusual compared to the other quotidian labels the app slaps on your photos, and is as risqué as the terms get.

But the AI isn't that great at its job yet. It tends to mis-categorize lots of photos which is why, if you just searched bra on your photos app, that category might have been filled with completely irrelevant images. Our team found childhood pics and images in tank tops filed under the "brassiere" category on their apps. It also uses machine learning on your phone to make the identifications, rather than going through the cloud, so there isn't a huge privacy concern, meaning it's just a strange, though potentially useful curiosity. I mean at least now you know you have easy access to your PG-13 pics.

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