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You may have never heard of LiDAR before, but it’s showing up in everything from driverless car tech (everyone but Tesla is a pretty big fan) to even privacy-focused monitoring options for elderly care homes. What is it, you ask?
The term stands for Light Detection and Ranging, and yeah, it’s a lot like radar – except much faster, more accurate, and more versatile. That brings us to why LiDAR has been showing up in recent models of the iPad and iPhone – specifically, the newest iPad Pros and the iPhone 12 Pro lineup include LiDAR sensors.
Many different apps can tap into its scanning and 3D mapping capabilities. If you’ve used the Measure app on one of those devices, for example, you’ve used the LiDAR sensor. There is also a lot of discussion about how LiDAR’s depth-sensing can be used to create or enable virtual and augmented reality, along with helping artists that are modeling objects in a 3D space.
All of this matters because of one of the latest leaks by DylanDKT, who is known for his info dumps on what Apple is up to behind closed doors.
As he mentioned on Twitter, Dylan claims to have received information that Apple wanted to include LiDAR on all iPhone 13 models, making the technology accessible for anyone with the newest iPhone. That’s not happening anymore.
If the leak is correct, LiDAR will be coming solely to the iPhone 13 Pro models (which are also supposed to get some important camera updates, as well as better 5G support). Why the change? There two important consumer-facing reasons why Apple may be choosing this approach. First, it’s possible that including LiDAR on the smaller iPhones will cause battery drain becoming one more thing for users to worry about turning on or off – on a list that’s already pretty long.
Second, LiDAR in devices this portable is still a relatively new technology, and there’s a great chance it would push iPhone prices higher than they otherwise would be. So, for now, Apple appears content keeping LiDAR a professional feature, which fits in well with its modeling and AR/VR potential.
If LiDAR starts making its way into more consumer-friendly fields with uses for everyday apps, that will increase the chances of expansion across all iPhones and more. But for now, Apple is one of the first movers.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]