Apple is said to be working on a 3D laser system to make for better AR, or augmented reality, on the iPhone 8 -- our going name for Apple's next iPhone -- according to a report by Fast Company.
Although Apple has been hush-hush about its next iPhone, we're 99 percent certain it will feature some form of AR. Last month at its yearly WWDC conference, Apple unveiled its ARKit, the company's software for developers to overlay virtual objects in the real world using AR. ARKit uses hardware that's already built into certain iOS devices, but it could get even better with technology like the dual cameras in the iPhone 7 Plus or whatever Apple decides to put into the next round of iPhones.
AR is the next frontier of smartphone smarts, with companies like Apple and Google vying to get their AR systems on phones. Google has its Tango software on two phones, including the ZenFone AR. Although the iPhone 8 would be Apple's first entry into AR, CEO Tim Cook has said that AR is "huge," claiming that its ARKit software will make Apple's the biggest AR platform overnight.
The iPhone's 3D laser system will reportedly go on the back of the phone and allow for better depth perception. The lasers could help more accurately map the phone's surroundings, which allows you to convincingly place virtual objects in the real world.
Lasers are also common in smartphone cameras to help quickly autofocus. The report's sources believe that the laser technology could appear in the iPhone 8, but may also debut in next year's round of iPhones.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
Other reports have claimed that the next iPhone's front-facing cameras could also get some sort of 3D sensing technology. This tech could make for better facial recognition capabilities — remember how the Galaxy S8's facial recognition was fooled by a photograph? But it's worth noting that Fast Company has also reported that the iPhone 8's facial recognition feature is tripping over software problems, and therefore might get delayed.
Neither the presence of front facing nor rear facing 3D sensors has been confirmed by Apple, so hedge this bet accordingly.