You’ve seen the trend on TikTok or Instagram: Your friends, family, and favorite influencers sharing yearbook photos from the ‘90s. Only it’s not really photos of them—it’s an AI-generated set of images.
These uncanny-valley yearbook photos have taken the internet by storm, and you can try it out for yourself. While there are likely other apps that offer the service, the one most people seem to be using is EPIK – AI Photo Editor.
This app didn’t land on the App Store with the express intent to generate AI yearbook photos: It already offered AI photo editing tools for users to remove distracting objects, swap backgrounds, add filters, and more. But it’s the yearbook feature that caused it to blow up. Here’s how you can try it out for yourself.
To start, download EPIK – AI Photo Editor on either the iOS App Store on Google Play Store. Open the app, then tap “AI Yearbook” on the main screen. Tap “Continue,” then choose “Upload 8–12 selfies.” You’ll need to give the app permission to access your camera roll, but for a more secure approach, only give it access to the eight to 12 selfies you want to upload.
Once you choose your photos, you’ll need to pick your gender, then pick a way to pay. (Unfortunately, this AI Yearbook feature isn’t free.) For $5.99, you can have your yearbook photos back in 24 hours. For $9.99, you can have them in two hours. Whichever option you pick, choose “Create Yearbook Images” to start the process.
There’s always something a little unsettling about apps like this, and if you’re wary about sharing your selfies with EPIK, I don’t blame you. However, the app itself doesn’t seem to be any worse with your data than the average app. For example, it uses identifiers to track your activity across other apps and websites, which plenty of apps do: If you disable tracking on your iPhone, that won’t be as much of a problem. It will also store information such as your location if you allow location permissions.
But of course the big question is about the images of your face itself. According to the parent company, SNOW Corporation, the EPIK app does not store any personal information from its users, including the selfies used to generate your AI images. However, that doesn’t mean SNOW Corporation doesn’t store your information: There’s a difference.
Based on all of that, it seems like EPIK and SNOW don’t keep your photos, but it’s possible it will store tracking information, device information, location information, and facial recognition processing. Again, you probably use apps that use your data in the same way. It’s not great, but you’re probably safe to try it out. (Of course, the ethics of these AI image generators is another discussion altogether.)