We may earn a commission if you make a purchase from the links on this page.
Apple has declared a priceless upgrade to its Spotlight search function, the original feature created to perform system-wide searches within both iOS or iPadOS devices and MacBooks. (In case you weren’t sure, Spotlight is the search bar that opens up when you swipe down from any home screen on your iPhone or iPad.)
The days of scrolling endlessly through your camera roll are over
Spotlight Image Search leverages Visual Look Up
This awesome new feature will work in tandem with Apple’s new Visual Look Up ability, which was also announced on June 7. Visual Lookup seems to perform the same function as Google Lens on Android—which is to be able to recognize and look up objects inside an image or photo—but Apple’s variant appears to be in its earlier stages of development, and not as versatile as its counterpart just yet.
Thanks to this AI-powered technology by Apple, you will now be able to search for a photo in your library by simply using keywords for objects you remember were included in the image, or people who were with you, or even the scene of the event.
Unsurprisingly, you will also be able to look up a saved image using the geographical location in which it was taken.
…and Live Text
As its own separate feature, Live Text is a special addition to Apple’s Camera and Photos app (allowing you to isolate and copy, paste, look up, or translate text directly from an image). But as part of Spotlight Image Search, it introduces the ability to find a photo simply by looking up a word from the photo or screenshot in question.
I know I often take screenshots or quick snaps of recipes, hand-scribbled notes, or phone numbers I want to save and review at a later time—only to promptly lose them in the chaos of my ever-expanding image gallery.
With Spotlight Image Search supporting Live Text searches, you will be able to find your photos using any phrase found inside the photographed text.
For example, if you know you snapped a pic of that incredible German cake recipe that you just can’t remember the name of, but only know that it used four eggs, you can search “4 eggs,” and Spotlight will immediately find the photo of the recipe (as long as it indeed lists “4 eggs”). How great is that?
Other New Spotlight Features: Instant Contact Discovery
Apart from easily looking up photos, Spotlight in iOS 15 will also be able to pull up contacts for you through the search bar.
Underneath that, Spotlight intelligently compiles and displays categories of anything you may have exchanged with that person in that past. This includes shared links, messages, photos, mutual calendar events, and e-mails.
Look Up Actors, Musicians, TV Shows, Movies in Spotlight
Apple is apparently also getting with the times with iOS 15, and can fill you in on plenty of pop culture phenomena by a quick search typed up into—you guessed it—Spotlight.
As the final upcoming addition to Spotlight, Apple has integrated the ability to look up and browse tidily compiled profiles on actors and musicians, as well as TV shows and movies.
As you can see in the photo below, the results pull up brief and concise bios including important information such as birth and death dates (for celebrities), and a short “About” paragraph which can be expanded for a more detailed overview.
Best iPhone 11 Deals Right Now