If you follow interviews with Apple CEO Tim Cook with any regularity, you know that he has been recently hyping up the promise of augmented reality. He believes that AR technology could have a huge impact in the future for mobile devices. Now a new report claims to have more information on Apple’s efforts to ramp up its own AR development, which could be added in future versions of the iPhone.
According to Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources, Apple currently has hundreds of people working on AR technology. Some have been brought in due to the company making small acquisitions of startups that have been working on AR software and products. Other team members have been recruited from companies like Oculus, who helped to develop the Samsung Gear VR headset, and Microsoft, which released its first generation HoloLens AR headset in 2016. The story said that Cook even visited the mysterious, and controversial, Magic Leap startup in the summer of 2016. The company is developing its own AR-based headset, but there’s no word on when it will be released.
It looks like AR camera features for the iPhone will be launched first, according to the story. It claims that the camera team is working on features such as the ability to change the depth of specific objects in an image later, along with a way to tilt an object in an image, like a human head, 180 degrees. Future iPhone camera features could also include a way to add stickers to an image, similar to what other mobile apps like Snapchat offer.
We'll likely see AR features added to the camera of future iPhone models.
Further in the future, the report claims Apple is working on a set of AR glasses that would connect wirelessly to a future iPhone. Those glasses will be able to project content like movies, apps, maps and more to the owner’s eyes. However, the article states that Apple will have a number of challenges before these glasses are launched. That includes offering solid battery life combined with a powerful enough processor, along with a design that is small enough to be comfortable to wear.
Apple has been down this wearable device road before with the Apple Watch, which so far has not been a huge sales success. The company will likely wait a while before it feels that it has created a set of AR glasses that will be able to attract a mainstream audience. In the meantime, it’s more likely that we will see AR-like features added to the camera of future iPhone models.