Live Text, more like New Text

Tyler Hackbart
Juice Box Monkey Designs
3 min readSep 1, 2021


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iOS 15 is weeks away from dropping to the public and there is a new feature that Apple is calling “Live Text”. Where you can capture text right from a your camera or from a past photo. Now that might sound great, but you might want to check some things before jumping on the bandwagon to use this feature in iOS 15.

This feature is not necessarily new, but it is now baked right into the native Apple software to speed up the process around it. Similar apps that are comparable are Google Lens, Word Capture and Quick Link Scan.

Before you update your iPhone to iOS 15 or even opt into the new beta for it, you might want to check what device you have and if Live Text supports it or not. iOS 15 supports the same list as iOS 14 which is a win for keeping older devices still on the market. However the Live Text feature is only supported on HALF of the devices listed.

So on paper it looks like iOS 15 supports a lot of devices.

Apple list of device support for iOS 15

But then you focus on just Live Text support, that list shrinks.

Apple list of device support for Live Text Feature inside iOS 15

Now there are several considerations when supporting a feature like Live Text and Apple has been working their way into text recognition for a while. This is the first time it is natively built into iOS compared to the past where you had access to it through their SDK as a developer. However, Apple Live Text feature looks to still rely more on a good camera than a good machine learning model. So Live Text comes with a condition around it.

As Apple moves further into these sorts of features, the worry is support for older devices, because more people would likely have an older device than the newest.

If you have a device that is crossed off above and still want the ability to capture content you should check out Quick Link Scan. It also allows you to keep all your captured content in one spot and supports quick links to social tags and account searching.

Apple support for Live Text might be great on a new device, but not creating a model that also runs successfully on older devices with older cameras is a step backwards. Removing yet another new feature for older device owners and having to upgrade to access it. There is just no excuse when other competitors have been doing it for years, already using those older cameras that Apple’s own Live Text doesn’t work with.

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