We’ve been hearing a lot about Apple’s ambitions with augmented reality, and a new report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman adds to the intrigue. As similar stories have said in the past, Apple is reportedly working on AR glasses (which won’t be ready for a while) and plans to put augmented reality features in the next iPhone. It’s got “hundreds of engineers” working on the tech, says Gurman, including individuals poached from Microsoft’s HoloLens team and Facebook-owned Oculus. Here’s Gurman on what the first iPhone AR tools might look like:
One of the features Apple is exploring is the ability to take a picture and then change the depth of the photograph or the depth of specific objects in the picture later; another would isolate an object in the image, such as a person's head, and allow it to be tilted 180 degrees. A different feature in development would use augmented reality to place virtual effects and objects on a person, much the way Snapchat works.
This certainly fits with reports from other sources. Last month, the reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested that this year’s iPhone would have a “revolutionary” camera augmented with an infrared projector and receiver. This would offer capabilities similar to the Kinect peripheral Microsoft made for the Xbox, including depth sensing and 3D mapping.
Augmented reality hasn’t been subject to the same buzz as virtual reality, but arguably, that’s because it’s more practical. It doesn’t immerse you in virtual worlds for entertainment purposes, but adds useful information to your line of sight — anything from navigational cues to mechanical labels. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said on a number of occasions he thinks AR will be bigger than VR. However, if this latest Bloomberg report is anything go by, the first AR features in Apple products will be pretty simple.