Apple May Adopt 3D Cameras in 2020 iPhones to Help Improve AR; iOS 13 to Add Dark Mode

BY Evan Selleck

Published 30 Jan 2019

Augmented reality is a major focal point for Apple, especially with its ARKit development platform.

As a result, Apple is going to make some important changes and additions to future iPhones to improve the overall experience. That’s the news out of Bloomberg today, at least. The report indicates that Apple is planning on adopting laser-powered, time-of-flight (ToF) 3D cameras.

With ToF, the laser will determine the distance between the camera and the object in a room. That data can then be utilized to form an even more impressive 3D model image of the area. If Apple does adopt this technology, then future iPhones could be even better at placing virtual items in the real world, thanks to the spatial determination from the hardware and software working together.

The report says that the new camera system will allow the future iPhone to scan areas up to 15 feet away. Sony may be supplying the system to Apple when the time comes. And while this new camera system will really takeoff with the iPhone, it may see the light of day first with the iPad Pro major refresh planned for the early part of 2020. This report indicates Apple isn’t planning major changes to the iPad Pro this year.

That’s not all, though. In 2019, Apple is once again said to adopt a rear triple camera design. This specific design choice will be available in the iPhone XS Max successor. Meanwhile, the iPhone XS sequel, and the follow-up to the iPhone XR, will both adopt a dual camera setup.

“For 2019, Apple plans successors to the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max — code-named D42 and D43 — and an update to the iPhone XR, said the people. The larger of the new high-end iPhones will have three cameras on the back, and other handsets could eventually come with the upgraded system, too, the people said.”

Digging deeper, Apple’s adoption of the third camera will apparently allow it to develop a feature that would allow the extra pixel data to fix a photo or video where a subject “may have accidentally been cut off from the initial shot”. We will also see an even more impressive version of Live Photos with this camera system as well.

The report also indicates that Apple is indeed testing 2019 iPhone models with a USB-C port rather than Lightning. However, if that change actually happens in 2019 is still unknown. Apple is also planning an upgraded A-series processor for the 2019 iPhones, along with general improvements to Face ID.

Meanwhile, Apple is planning to add at least one oft-requested feature in the next version of its mobile operating system. Bloomberg says Apple will adopt a system-wide dark mode in the next version of the OS. The iPad is getting a new homescreen, too, and CarPlay will see improvements as well. File management will also be getting improved as well.

“Apple’s next operating system update, iOS 13, will include a dark mode option for easier nighttime viewing and improvements to CarPlay, the company’s in-vehicle software. There will also be iPad-specific upgrades like a new home screen, the ability to tab through multiple versions of a single app like pages in a web browser, and improvements to file management.”

We won’t be seeing a new iPad Pro this year, but we will be getting new iPads. The report reiterates that Apple is planning on launching a new, 10-inch entry-level iPad in the beginning of 2019. The device will have a more powerful processor, and it will keep the Lightning port. At the same time, and lining up with earlier rumors, Apple will also launch a new, less expensive new iPad mini into the world. A separate rumor says the new iPad mini will support a Smart Keyboard and the Apple Pencil. This report says the new tablets will launch “as early as this spring”, but nothing is confirmed just yet.

That’s quite a bit to take in! 2019 and 2020 are going to be busy years for sure. Of course, a lot of attention is going to be paid to iOS 13 when WWDC rolls around this June. Can Apple revamp the OS and start getting some people excited about the platform again by the time new iPhones launch later this year?

[via Bloomberg]