Apple's made no secret of its interest in augmented reality, and the upcoming iPhone 8 release gives the company an opportunity to integrate those features into its phones.
A new report indicates that Apple's AR plans for the iPhone involve more than just software.Credit: Mark Spoonauer/Tom's GuideFast Company says that Apple hopes to add rear-facing 3D laser system to its phones, with an eye toward incorporating the feature into the iPhone 8. Such a system would offer better depth detection for AR apps running on the iPhone. It would also improve autofocus for the iPhone's camera.
While the report says that Apple wants to include this feature in the iPhone 8 slated to come out this fall, there is the possibility that the hardware won't be ready until 2018. It all depends on whether Apple engineers can integrate the laser system into the phone in time, Fast Company reports.
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This latest report falls right in line with earlier rumors about Apple's AR ambitions for its phones. As early as last year, reports surfaced that Apple wanted to add AR features into the iOS camera app, such as object recognition and real-time effects editing. Bloomberg confirmed Apple's interest in AR, reporting this spring that the company was working on ways to integrate the technology into its product lineup, with the iPhone being a central part of this AR focus.
Apple has already tipped its hand on AR, introducing ARKit as part of iOS 11. That set of developer tools aims to make it easier to incorporate AR features into mobile apps. In ARKit's case, those apps would work on any iPhone capable of running iOS 11 and featuring an A9 processor or later. That means any phone from 2015's iPhone 6s onward would be able to support ARKit-powered apps.
The Fast Company report is significant because it indicates Apple wants its 2017 flagship phone to offer even more AR oomph. By including hardware with specific AR features, the iPhone 8 — or whatever device that includes the rear-facing 3D laser system — will be able to do more with the apps created by developers who tap into ARKit.
The improved autofocus features that a 3D laser system would bring are also intriguing as it would adopt features already available in devices like the Google Pixel.
The iPhone 8 is expected to be the centerpiece of Apple's smartphone lineup this fall. In addition to the feature-rich iPhone 8, Apple is likely to roll out more modest updates to its iPhone 7 and 7 Plus phones.