Another day, another round of idle speculation on a next-gen iPhone… or four. Don’t get us wrong, Bloomberg’s “people familiar” with Apple’s plans are as close to a rock-solid inside source as one can get. It’s just that we’re pretty sure Tim Cook himself has no idea how the 2018 iPhone lineup will end up looking, let alone the company’s still-abstract 2019 releases.

That said, a number of innovation avenues and AR tech-evolving strategies are definitely in exploration already, including the adoption of a rear-facing 3D sensor no earlier than two years down the line.

This would complement rather than replace the existing TrueDepth camera system mounted on the front of the iPhone X, enabling super-advanced augmented reality applications.

Currently, Face ID can provide authentication that’s significantly more convenient, accurate and secure (on paper) than Touch ID fingerprint recognition, with the “forward-thinking” front-facing shooter on the iPhone X also supporting Portrait Lighting (still in beta) and decidedly gimmicky but fun Animojis.

iOS 11 developers can use ARKit to create “unparalleled augmented reality experiences for iPhone and iPad” as well, but until this second 3D sensor is added to the hardware artillery, the technology can’t come close to a maturity point.

As such, it’s very exciting to hear of Apple’s growing interest in so-called “time-of-flight” components from manufacturers like Sony, Panasonic, Infineon Technologies and STMicroelectronics.

These should considerably improve depth perception, accurately measuring real-life objects, surfaces and distances to better blend virtual items and information with the physical environment around you. That’s largely similar to what Google Tango-powered Androids can do, but if Apple pulls it off as planned, it will no doubt work smoother and catch on faster.

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