Canon's new Photo culling app uses AI to pick out your best snaps

Canon Phil app
(Image credit: Canon)

Canon has launched a new Photo Culling app for iOS that uses AI to automatically find what it thinks are your best snaps and suggest the bad ones to delete.

The app uses a computer vision engine called PHIL (Photography Intelligence Learning), which makes it sound like a British hitman who's been contracted to hunt down your worst snaps. Sadly, it's currently US-only for now, but we've asked Canon if and when it'll be coming to the UK or other territories and will update this story when we hear back.

So how does the Photo Culling app actually decide which shots are 'good' and which are a waste of storage? You can use it in one of two modes. The slightly terrifying-sounding 'Whole Culling' rates your photos using four different AI models: noise, sharpness, emotions and closed eyes.

Once you've decided the threshold for these four factors, the app will create a score for each photo and crown the overall winners in your camera roll, while also making suggestions for deletions.

If you're just looking to pick the best shots from a group of similar ones, though, then the 'Similar Culling' mode will create a score based on comparisons between a group of snaps, then pick one or two of the best ones.

Like Google Photos, the app can also automatically group similar photos together by subject (for examples dogs or sunsets), then pick out your money shot in those areas, too. It'll also create albums based on events and dates, which will live on the app's homescreen.

Canon Phil app

(Image credit: Canon)

A sea of snaps

AI-powered apps like this can raise privacy concerns, but Canon says it doesn't "obtain, collect or use such images or any information included in such images through this app". And the photos themselves remain stored on your phone's local storage, with Canon suggesting that you should disable cloud photos from your settings for the best results.

Slightly less good news is that the Photo Culling app has a subscription. While you can download the app for free (if you're in the US), you'll need to pay either $2.99 per month or $14.99 for the year to get full access to all its features.

The app is yet another move by Canon into AI-powered photography, with the camera giant announcing a similar Photo Culling plug-in for Lightroom Classic last year. Canon's much-improved autofocus in cameras like the Canon EOS R5 and Canon EOS 1D X Mark III also uses deep learning to help identify subjects like human eyes and animals.

With cameras like the EOS R5 boasting burst speeds of 20fps and Canon claiming that 1.4 trillion photos were taken worldwide in 2020 (according to a report from Keypoint Intelligence), photographers could certainly do with a virtual helping hand when it comes to organization.

But with the relative 'quality' of a photo also very subjective, with some artistic effects or nostalgic moments perhaps not necessarily a algorithm's idea of the 'best' shot, it also feels like early days for AI-powered photo helpers like Canon's Photo Culling app.

Mark Wilson
Senior news editor

Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at both TechRadar and Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.