In the TikTok shared by user Brie Thomason, a digital camera using an infrared lens is seen filming an iPhone user observing his home screen. As the iPhone user stares at the device, Thomason’s digital camera captures the iPhone snapping multiple infrared images every five to 10 seconds.
Since the video was uploaded to social media on May 8, it has garnered over 230,000 likes and over 18,000 shares, alarming some and catching many off guard.
While this discovery may cause some users to panic, Apple says this is actually just an aspect of the iPhone that allows users to control their face ID and Animoji (the animated emoji function).
According to Apple, this feature is available on iPhone X and later and iPad Pro models with the A12X Bionic chip.
The company says this feature is part of the new ‘TrueDepth IR camera.’ This camera, housed in the black notch at the top of the display, includes a number of high-tech components such as a ‘flood illuminator,’ infrared (IR) camera and an infrared emitter.
Officials say as an iPhone is used, it emits 30,000 infrared dots in a known pattern when a face is detected, enabling the iPhone X to generate a 3D map of a user’s face. According to the team, this TrueDepth IR camera can also do this fast enough to support the creation of 3D motion data as well.
So, yes, your iPhone is essentially taking “invisible” photos of you, but not for the reasons you would think.