Apple Taps HoloLens, Oculus Engineers To Bring Augmented Reality To The iPhone 8

Apple may look to the field of augmented reality to help set its upcoming iPhone 8 device apart from the competition. Perhaps just as importantly, infusing AR into the iPhone 8 would set its next flagship phone apart from previous iPhone models, a not unimportant goal after Apple faced criticism for the lack of innovation that went into designing the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

That is not to say the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are bad phones. Far from it—they're the best iPhones to date, and some would consider them the best smartphones available. But compared to previous models, Apple's latest generation iPhone devices are a bit boring. Sure, they're faster, take better photos, and sport some new features, but they lack a 'gee-whiz' addition. That is where AR comes into play.

iPhone AR

Apple boss Tim Cook believes AR is a bigger deal than virtual reality, telling Good Morning America last September that AR is "commercially viable because it allows users to be more present." He added that AR and VR are both "incredibly interesting," but in his view "augmented reality is the larger of the two, probably by far."

Less than a month later Cook predicted that AR will happen in a big way.

"I do think that a significant portion of the population of developed countries, and eventually all countries, will have AR experiences every day. It will be almost like eating three meals a day because it will become that much a part of you," Cook said in response to a question about virtual reality and AR. "A lot of us live on our smartphones, the iPhone, I hope, is very important for everyone, so AR think will become really big. VR I think is not going to be that big, compared to AR. I’m not saying it’s not important, it is important."

Cook's infatuation with AR is without doubt. The question is, to what extent will he and Apple leverage AR in its own products and services? The answer could be the iPhone 8. It is said that Apple has put together a team of hardware and software veterans that is run by a former Dolby Laboratories executive. The team consists of engineers who worked on Facebook's Oculus Rift and Microsoft's HoloLens headsets. Apple has also gone out and bought smaller companies involved in AR hardware, 3D gaming, and VR software.

Exactly how the iPhone 8 might implement AR is not known. It is believed that Apple has been working on a bunch of different AR products, including wireless glasses that could connect to an iPhone and receive content from the handset. While that is probably a distant product, implementing some sort of AR capabilities in the iPhone 8 seems more than plausible.

One of the things Apple is said to be doing is working on a way to take a picture and then change the depth of field or of specific objects in the picture later. Along those same lines, the camera would be able to isolate an object in an image, such as a person's head, which could then be tilted 180 degrees. And of course there is the idea of placing virtual objects in a picture or on a person, similar to Snapchat.

Whatever Apple has in store, we're hoping it will be big. In all likelihood it will be, considering the iPhone 8 will be Apple's 10th anniversary iPhone model.