For months now, the internet has been awash with rumors that Apple's 10th-anniversary iPhone (which we're calling the iPhone 8 for now) will have facial recognition built into at least one of its cameras.
The application is pretty dry stuff, filled with cardboardy legalese, but it does outline some pretty juicy reasons why a "presence sensor" could be a good thing.
Human recognition could:
- Keep your device from slipping into power saving mode while you're still using it
- Power up the device (or unlock it, presumably) if it notices you approaching -- that could save you 6 seconds each time
- The display could zoom in or out based on how close or far the screen is from your face (like it you're reading a story or looking at a photo)
- The device could show you more or fewer menus or options based on where you are in relation to the screen
- If the image sensor tells the processor that the main user is present, it could trigger the processor to do something different
- Depending where you are, the device could funnel audio in your direction
Important reminder: A patent application is not a granted patent and it doesn't mean that Apple will automatically use these features. But it's a good indication of what Apple is thinking, and where other phones could be going as well.
While Apple keeps things vague (it refers to a "computing device"), it's likely we're talking about a device that's easy to move around. So the iPhone, Apple Watch and iPad are good candidates for this kind of sensor. A MacBook, not so much. The patent application also implies that sensors live on the front of the device -- Apple's patent application mentions a camera sensor, but also light sensors and also infrared (IR) and microwave radar.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment.