What the iPhone 7 Reveals About Apple’s Augmented-Reality Plans

I believe that Apple's next big iPhone release is going to feature augmented-reality technology. Obviously, nobody at Apple has said anything about such a product. But the now-shipping iPhone 7 Plus, complete with dual-camera technology, is the latest hint Apple is moving in that direction. This, along with several high-profile company purchases (Metaio in 2015 and PrimeSense in 2013), points to this technology eventually appearing in products.

One more thing: Apple CEO Tim Cook can't stop talking about how big an opportunity augmented reality represents.

Dual-Camera Technology

Apple executives spent a great deal of time during the recent iPhone 7 launch event talking about the current and future capabilities of the two 12-megapixel cameras integrated into the iPhone 7 Plus. The first camera is a 28mm-equivalent lens that most would consider wide angle (the iPhone 7 has the same camera). The second is a 56mm equivalent and, while Apple's Phil Schiller kept calling it a telephoto lens, the reality is that it's actually more of a portrait lens.

Here's my bet: When Apple heads toward its next big hardware revision, we'll see an iPhone (and maybe an iPad Pro) with AR capabilities.

In addition to giving the phone an effective 2x optical zoom, the dual cameras enable a long list of software capabilities that should result in notably better photos for most users. That's interesting (and very useful), but what interests me more about this hardware is the fact that Apple could use the dual cameras to capture information about the objects and space in front of the cameras. Two cameras allow the device to capture and create depth-mapping information.

Earlier this year, I wrote about Lenovo's Phab Pro 2, the first Tango-enabled smartphone. Tango is Google's handheld augmented-reality platform. The Lenovo phone actually uses three cameras and a host of other sensors to capture motion,...

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