The Apple Photos ‘Year In Review’ Totally Nailed My 2020

Clare Wieck
3 min readNov 27, 2020


Together, we’ll find the monster who did this to your hand. Photo: Clare Wieck

As we hurtle through the information age shouting, “Let’s do it!” to anything and everything that we can make possible with our COOL TECH, (because who needs ethics when you’re just, like, really curious?) we’ve accomplished some astounding things.

My personal favorites so far: the infinite scroll (better to stay informed than to sleep like a tired idiot), Gmail’s Smart Compose (“Sorry for the late reply. We’ve had a family tragedy and I’ve had to pause the hiring process. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Could you let me know your availability next month?” >> “Sounds good!”), and any neural network that creates recipes (Canical Bear-Widded Nutts, anyone?).

Big wins though these inventions are, one piece of the AI puzzle has eluded us: an AI with decent emotional aptitude.

At least, that’s what I thought until my iPhone presented me with my Apple Photos Year In Review 2020.

Some background: An iPhone is an object that makes up a third of the Holy Trinity and a quarter of the foundational level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Interestingly, the air you’re breathing right now is 0.012% iPhone.

Apple Photos is an app that comes installed on the iPhone.

An app is a piece of software that simplifies and enriches your life.

The Year In Review is a gift from Apple, like that time Apple collaborated with U2 and gave everyone who had iTunes the new U2 album and then they found out that – surprise! – not everyone loved the idea of some massive corporation deciding that if anyone was to have any album on iTunes, it should definitely be the new U2 album. This resulted in Bono publicly apologizing to millions of people who now had an album that they never asked for. I’m sure the realization that not everyone is a U2 fan was emotional for Bono. But not as emotional as finding a new U2 album that you didn’t want as a compulsory download in your iTunes library.

The Year In Review is a montage of photos you took and videos you recorded throughout the year without even knowing which ones would be carefully selected by a panel of photography and memoir experts to create the perfect summary of your year! And by “panel of photography and memoir experts,” I mean “an emotionally brilliant algorithm whose curatorial eye and ability to read the room eclipses that of any human.” This algorithm then sets these photos and videos to a perfectly fitting soundtrack so you can look back on your year crying and laughing from all the meaningful things that happened to you.

My own montage nailed me and my life so hard that I wanted to share a bit of the experience with you.

We start with the music: A cheeky tune that encapsulates my most frequently recurring moods this year: breezy and fun. Me in a nutshell. 10/10.

Then come the photos: A bounty of snapshots including a shop window featuring a large frog statue dressed in a sailor suit and carrying a lantern (now only €39.99, see above); a wool shop window displaying framed photographs of celebrities wearing scarves (featuring Richard Gere); and a chemical toilet on the side of the road.

There were about 300 pictures of flowers, too, but the aforementioned images were the stand-outs, and basically what my year was all about. Plus, the wool shop reminded me how I sometimes used to knit and prompted me to make a robust New Year’s resolution: Stop being such a stupid quitter.

Overall, it’s a 12/10 from me. If this wasn’t what Arthur C. Clarke had in mind for the future, I don’t know what is.