The technology described in a new Apple patent could transform the way we share photos. According to a new report from Apple Insider, the new patent builds upon current facial recognition tech, enabling users to find and sort their photos. The patent takes it one step further with descriptions of methods to link contact data to faces and gives users options for sharing photos with friends through email and SMS.

Apple Facial Recognition Photo Sharing

Apple’s patent makes sharing photos easier

The patent covers a variety of photo-sharing and contact-linking methods. It enables users to manually link faces with contact info and posts to social networks as a means to distribute photos. The patent filing mentioned that the user will have the option to choose one or multiple communication methods and have the digital image sent to recipients via the selected method. The individual could share information for facial recognition of the other individuals with the service. Using that information, the service could recognize images of the person in the uploaded photo and send the digital photo to them.

Apple Facial Recognition Photo Sharing

Google, Facebook integrate facial recognition into their photo apps

Apple isn’t the only company looking at new ways to use facial recognition technology to share images. Search giant Google recently revamped its photo app with machine learning algorithms that automatically sort the camera rolls of users and enabled people to use natural language queries to help them search through photos. The only downside to Google’s algorithm crawl is that it takes a lot of personal data. Social media giant Facebook also launched something similar with the Moments app, which scans photos for recognizable faces but does not copy the photos to servers unless the user syncs photos with another user.

Apple previously (and proudly) claimed its business model didn’t need to rely on user data accumulation. In the new patent, the Cupertino-based company stated that the database which connects to individual contact information would be stored locally or on the cloud.