Apple could be working on a new AI tool that animates your images based on text prompts

The iPhone 15 being held in a hand, showing the back of the phone
(Image credit: Future)

Apple may be working on a new artificial intelligence tool that will let you create basic animations from your photos using a simple text prompt. If the tool comes to fruition, you’ll be able to turn any static image into a brief animation just by typing in what you want it to look like. 

According to 9to5Mac, Apple researchers have published a paper that details procedures for manipulating image graphics using text commands. The tool, Apple Keyframer, will use natural language text to tell the proposed AI system to manipulate the given image and animate it. 

Say you have a photo of the view from your window, with trees in the background and even cars driving past. From what the paper suggests, you’ll be able to type commands such as ‘make the leaves move as if windy’ into the Keyframer tool, which will then animate the specified part of your photo.

You may recognize the name ‘keyframe’ if you’re an Apple user, as it’s already part of Apple’s Live Photos feature - which lets you go through a ‘live photo’ GIF and select which frame, the keyframe, you want to be the actual still image for the photo. 

Better late than never? 

Apple has been notably slow to jump onto the AI bandwagon, but that’s not exactly surprising. The company is known to play the long game and let others beat out the kinks before they make their move, as we’ve seen with its recent foray into mixed reality with the Apple Vision Pro (this is also why I have hope for a foldable iPhone coming soon). 

I’m quite excited for the Keyframer tool if it does come to fruition because it’ll put basic animation tools into the palm of every iPhone user who might not know where to even start with animation, let alone make their photos move.

Overall, the direction Apple seems to be taking in terms of AI tools seems to be a positive one. The Keyframer tool comes right off the back of Apple’s AI-powered image editing tool, which again reinforces the move towards user experience improvement rather than just putting out things that mirror the competition from companies like OpenAI, Microsoft, and Google.

I’m personally glad to see that Apple’s dive into the world of artificial intelligence tools isn’t just another AI chatbot like ChatGPT or Google Gemini, but rather focusing on tools that offer unique new features for iOS and macOS products. While this project is in the very early stages of inception, I’m still pretty hyped about the idea of making funny little clips of my cat being silly or creating moving memories of my friends with just a few word prompts. 

As for when we’ll get our hands on Keyframer, unfortunately there’s no release date in sight just yet - but based on previous feature launches, Apple willingly revealing details at this stage indicates that it’s probably not too far off, and more importantly isn’t likely to get tossed aside. After all, Apple isn’t Google.

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Muskaan Saxena
Computing Staff Writer

Muskaan is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing writer. She has always been a passionate writer and has had her creative work published in several literary journals and magazines. Her debut into the writing world was a poem published in The Times of Zambia, on the subject of sunflowers and the insignificance of human existence in comparison.

Growing up in Zambia, Muskaan was fascinated with technology, especially computers, and she's joined TechRadar to write about the latest GPUs, laptops and recently anything AI related. If you've got questions, moral concerns or just an interest in anything ChatGPT or general AI, you're in the right place.

Muskaan also somehow managed to install a game on her work MacBook's Touch Bar, without the IT department finding out (yet).