Apple is planning to launch their iPhones with a more-powerful 3D camera as soon as next year, stepping up the company’s push into augmented reality.
The rear-facing, longer-range 3D camera is designed to scan the environment to create three-dimensional reconstructions of the real world.
It will work up to about 15 feet from the device. This is in contrast with the current iPhone 3D camera system, which points toward users and operates at distances of 25 to 50 centimetres to power Apple’s Face ID facial-recognition feature.
Apple’s new system uses a laser scanner, rather than the existing dot-projection technology which doesn’t work as well over longer distances.
That’s just one of many new features – including a third, more advanced camera, enhanced photo-capture tools and a more powerful chip – that Apple plans to include in coming generations of iPhones.
The laser-powered 3D camera would enhance augmented reality on the iPhone, allowing for more accurate depth perception and placement of virtual objects.
It could also help the handset take photos that can better capture depth, the people said. Apple has been in talks with Sony about testing sensors for the new system, one of the people said.
The 2020 iPhone camera may be a prelude to an AR headset that Apple has been preparing for as early as 2020.
A third camera on the back of the 2019 iPhone will help the device capture a larger field of view and enable a wider range of zoom.
It will also capture more pixels so Apple software could, for example, automatically repair a video or photo to fit in a subject that may have been accidentally cut off from the initial shot, according to the people familiar with the plans.
The company is also planning an enhanced version of its Live Photos feature, which pins video from before and after each shot to the photo. The new version will double the length of the video from three seconds to six seconds.
The laser-powered 3D camera could debut first on an upgrade to the iPad Pro currently planned for as early as spring 2020, according to one of the people. Apple isn’t expected to release a major iPad Pro update this year like it did in 2018.
It typically upgrades the line in the second half of the year. Apple in the past has launched major new features on the iPad before the iPhone, including 4G internet connectivity in 2012.
Apple is also testing some versions of this year’s iPhone line that includes a USB-C connector instead of the lightning port that has been used on iPhones since 2012, indicating that the company plans an eventual switch, according to one of the people.
Moving to USB-C would make the new models compatible with chargers used for hundreds of other devices, like Android phones.
Apple’s next operating system update, iOS 13, will include a dark mode option for easier nighttime viewing and improvements to CarPlay, the company’s in-vehicle software.
There will also be iPad-specific upgrades like a new home screen, the ability to tab through multiple versions of a single app like pages in a web browser, and improvements to file management.
The company will also integrate two new services, including a magazine subscription service and its original video content efforts, via iOS updates this year.
Credit: Digital Street SA