The sensor system will enable better depth detection for augmented reality and enhanced auto-focus. Today's report explains that it's up to the "progress Apple engineers make in integrating the laser system into the phone" and that it could come this year or it could come next year.
Also, the report suggests that the decade edition or the 10th Anniversary iPhone will feature the 3D laser sensors in a vertically aligned housing on the back panel.
Apple is expected to introduce its 10th anniversary iPhone, now dubbed as iPhone 8, this fall. The question is how long Apple can wait after the introduction of ARKit to get the laser into the iPhone.
This evening's report shouldn't come as too big of a surprise for anyone who has been following iPhone 8 rumors. The system consists of the source laser, a lens, a sensor and a processor. "The whole thing costs about $2 per phone", the anonymous tipster said. Laser beams bounce off objects and return to the sensor providing the precise depth of field for each. The camera lens can then focus on the desired aspect of a shot in milliseconds.
The Fast Company report is significant because it indicates Apple wants its 2017 flagship phone to offer even more AR oomph. It would also improve autofocus for the iPhone's camera. Laser autofocus systems are already used in smartphones from Google, Huawei, OnePlus, and Asus. This is a complicated process where your phone splits up incoming light into sets of images and compares them to determine where an object is, and how to focus on it. Apple has already qualified all three companies as potential suppliers, the source says.
This new information about the iPhone 8 comes after Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts Wamsi Mohan and Stefano Pascale reported that Apple's next flagship phone could be delayed by nearly a month.