Yesterday we brought the latest rumor about Apple’s work on its next smartphone, hearing that the iPhone 6 may end up without its camera getting a big resolution upgrade, and instead Apple would focus on improving image quality by implementing optical image stabilization. While a lot of us might have been hoping to see something like a 13-megapixel camera on the iPhone 6, OIS is pretty valuable in its own right, and we’ve been seeing the tech pop up on smartphone after smartphone in 2013. Now a newly published patent application may just serve to help reinforce that OIS rumor, revealing Apple’s work on such a system of its own.
Let’s be very clear here: in all likelihood, this is a coincidence. Apple first filed the application all the way back in 2012, just weeks after the iPhone 5 launched, and is only popping-up again now due to the whims of the USPTO. We’ve also got to remember that Apple doesn’t really make cameras itself, and we’ve seen it use Sony-made components in the past. So, in that light, what good is this find?
Well, it establishes pretty clearly that Apple’s been putting a lot of thought into how optical stabilization could improve phone imagery, and that it’s been doing so for years now. That, combined with the fact that we haven’t yet seen it actually employ the tech on any handset, could imply that the company’s been working up to the point where it’s ready to actually implement it, and OIS in an iPhone may be just around the corner.
The system described in this patent sounds pretty decent, at least, using a voice coil to control dual auto-focus and OIS systems capable of three degrees of freedom.