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3D cameras: AR upgrades expected for 2019 iPhones

We’ve heard rumors of triple-camera setups before, but if the latest reports are true Apple may be planning to add a 3D camera to its next iPhones in order to improve features like Augmented Reality and Portrait Mode.

Bloomberg has published a piece in which it claims to know all kinds of facts about Apple’s plans this year, after speaking with a series of “people familiar with the plans”. Here’s what they have to say about the new camera setup, which is expected to debut with this year’s “Max” iPhone and make its way to smaller models over time:

“The rear-facing, longer-range 3-D camera is designed to scan the environment to create three-dimensional reconstructions of the real world. It will work up to about 15 feet from the device.”

Of course, the X-style iPhones already have three-dimensional cameras – but they’re front-facing with limited range, used primarily for Face ID scanning. The report suggests a 3D camera with up to 10x the range, to sit on the back of the device alongside the existing camera setup.

Beyond that, Bloomberg seems to have got wind of Apple’s product release plans for this year:

“For 2019, Apple plans successors to the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max — code-named D42 and D43 — and an update to the iPhone XR.”

So far, pretty obvious. We would have guessed that sequels to Apple’s 2018 iPhones would launch this Fall, too. But more interesting is the intel about iPads:

“Beyond iPhones, Apple plans to release an updated version of its lower-cost iPad with a roughly 10-inch screen and a faster processor as early as this spring, according to people familiar with the plans. The company is also readying a new, cheaper iPad mini, its smallest tablet that hasn’t been updated since 2015, the people said.”

The report also states fairly confidently that iOS 13 will finally introduce Dark Mode, while Apple’s home-grown News and TV subscription services will launch this year. Again, none of these are particularly risky predictions – we can imagine all of this coming true in the coming months. But even so, it’s best to take reports like this from unnamed sources with a pinch of salt. Who knows what Apple truly has up its sleeve.