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I am so excited about it, I just want to yell out and scream.”
These were the words that Apple CEO Tim Cook used to describe his enthusiasm about augmented reality. But so far, Apple has shown no sign of actually entering that particular competitive arena - or even the related one of virtual reality.
But are things about to change with the impending launch of the iPhone 8. As usual, the build-up to the launch is enshrouded in secrecy. The expected developments include and edge to edge screen and obviously a higher resolution camera. There is also speculation that they will do away with the physical Home button, in favour of touching the screen.
However, the rumor mill has also been grinding out stories about how this iPhone will have some integrated AR capability. It is known that Apple is pushing into AR from the software end - hence their announcement of the ARKit for the iOS 11 operating system, due out this fall. The ARKit will let developers create augmented reality apps for iOS 11. And the operating system will ship with the iPhone 8.
All of this is known. But what does it mean in practice? Well, it’s hard to say with Apple because they almost never respond to rumors. But two of the rumors about the iPhone 8 have indirectly been confirmed.
First, an executive from Wistrom, an Apple supplier, told their shareholders at their recent AGM “Assembly process for the previous generations of [iPhones] have not changed much, though new features like waterproof and wireless charging now require some different testing, and waterproof function will alter the assembly process a bit.” The iPhone 7 is water-resistant, but not waterproof and does not have wireless charging.
Secondly, it was reported in respected source Nikkei Asian Review that Largan Precision (another Apple supplier) has announced that its 3D-sensing lenses will be “ready to ship in the second half of this year.” There are already front-facing cameras that can unlock a phone, (like the Samsung Galaxy S8), but they can be tricked with a photo of a face. A camera with a 3D sensing lens, is thought to be immune from this type of low-tech hack. The 3D camera will also map the user’s face with 3D lasers, making the system yet more secure.
However could there be more to what is coming from Apple this Fall? No one as yet knows what the iPhone 8 will even look like, there is speculation that it will in fact resemble a single clear piece of glass. There are also reports that it will have a dual lens, stereoscopic camera.
But at this stage all we can do is wait and see.