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iPhone Camera Sensors

The Future of the iPhone Camera

We’re still a long way away from Apple’s next iPhone iteration (they typically release their flagship phone every September), but we’re already getting some interesting details about Apple’s product roadmap through 2020 – including revolutionary AR-enabling laser hardware.

2019 iPhone Rumored Features

  • Updated front-facing TrueDepth Camera, for a slimmer notch design
  • Possibly shift from Lightning to USB-C ports
  • WiFi 6

2020 iPhone Rumors

  • Rear-facing TrueDepth camera with lasers
  • 5G support
  • All OLED lineup

One item in particular that caught our attention was a major update to the camera system. Apple already applies the TrueDepth camera for Face ID (hands-free unlock) and selfies (leading to some striking photos in Portrait Mode), but now wants to apply a beefed up version of this technology to the rear facing camera.

iPhone camera examples

Portrait Mode Examples | iPhoneHacks.com

An In Depth Look

How would TrueDepth improve the rear-facing camera system? The first thing that is improved dramatically is photography: currently Apple and Samsung are using some serious AI to figure out what parts of the image to focus on and which to apply the ubiquitous bokeh background blur effect to. AI is used to determine a rough shape outline on which to focus. AI-assisted cameras mean that anything (not just people) can be picked out of a scene using precision lasers for instantly and perfectly focused images every time.

More interesting is the effect it would have on Augmented Reality (AR). Not to be confused with virtual reality – which immerses users in a digital realm – AR adds digital objects/character/information to your device’s viewfinder and places them accurately in the real world. Apple CEO Tim Cook has publicly repeated Apple’s commitment to AR, and rumours abound that Apple is developing both a car and a pair of glasses that incorporate AR heavily. An updated rear-facing TrueDepth camera would massively improve the accuracy and realism of the AR experience.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has publicly repeated Apple’s commitment to [AR] and rumours abound that Apple is developing both a car and a pair of glasses that incorporate AR heavily.

Reading the Tea Leaves 

Sometimes you can tell a lot about a company’s plans by snooping around their LinkedIn page. Recently, LoupVentures noted the promotion of Frank Casanova to Head of Product Marketing at Apple AR to mean Apple is gearing up to make some real noise about these AR features. In the last few years Apple hasn’t done enough to get users excited about AR; most of the attention received by AR was a consequence of Pokemon Go and Snap/Instagram filters. Part of the reason for Apple’s lack of emphasis on AR marketing is the limited tech in the current generation of iPhones. This should be rectified by 2020’s lineup.

Why Cameras Matter 

Unsurprisingly, cameras are one of the most important drivers of smartphone upgrades, as demonstrated by the acclaim that Google received for the AI features it built into the Android camera app. Those innovative camera features – which ensured well-lit photos, even at night – were the basis for marketing surrounding the 2018 line of Pixel phones.

 

Shot on iPhone marketing campaign

Shot on iPhone marketing campaign

Apple, too, uses the latest camera features in their marketing; their ubiquitous Shot on iPhone campaign has been going since 2015, promoting the professionalism of the photos and videos one can create with the latest iPhone cameras. It’s not hard to imagine a future campaign that shows off the AR capabilities for business, social media and games – and, of course, photography.

Featured Concept Image | 9to5mac

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