IPhone and iPad with 'laser-powered 3-D cameras' said to launch in 2020

Key Points
  • Apple is planning to launch an iPhone and an iPad with new 3D AR cameras in 2020, Bloomberg reports.
  • Phone makers have tried to launch 3D cameras in the past, but they were low quality and never caught on.
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that AR will play a huge role in the future of the iPhone.
Chinese customers visit an Apple Store in Hong Kong.
Marcio Rodrigo Machado | S3studio | Getty Images

Apple is planning to launch a new iPhone and a new iPad with "3-D AR cameras" next year, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

The report says the camera can help create a three-dimensional scan of the real world and "allow for more accurate depth perception and placement of virtual objects."

Google once had a similar technology it called Project Tango. It was also able to scan and create a 3D model of a room, but the project was ultimately shut down.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that augmented reality, or AR, is an important part of the company's future. The latest iPhones already support augmented reality apps, which allow you to drop digital items on top of the real world and view them through the iPhone. In the Ikea app, for example, you can drop a digital piece of furniture in your living room to see how it looks and if it fits in your room before you buy it.

"And with things like AR … I think it becomes even more essential than it currently is. I know it's hard to believe, but I think that's the case," Tim Cook told CNBC in August 2017. But Apple hasn't yet really shown how AR will become even more important than it already is. Reports have suggested that Apple plans to one day launch glasses with support for AR.

3D cameras have been used in phones before. In 2011, LG launched the Optimus 3D, which let users snap 3D pictures and then view them without 3D glasses on the phone's 3D display. But the quality was low, and 3D phones never took off.

The Wall Street Journal said earlier this month that Apple plans to launch three new iPhones in September, including one with three cameras.

Apple was not immediately available to comment.

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