ON newer iPhone models, you’ll notice a strange black circle on the back.
It sits just near the camera – but it doesn’t look like any of the other lenses.
There are four iPhone models with this circle on the back.
They include the iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
And it’s likely that the upcoming iPhone 14 will feature one too.
But what is it, and why is it there? There are three things you need to know.
Secret #1 – it’s a LiDAR scanner!
The black circle is actually a LiDAR scanner.
LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging, and it’s designed to measure distances.
It works by sending out light beams to the person in question and timing how long they take to return.
The phone can map out what it’s focusing on and measure what’s in front of it.
It means an iPhone can accurately create a 3D map of the space in front of the sensor.
This can be used for photography, to improve augmented reality in apps, and for some other clever features.
Secret #2 – the little-known Apple app
Apple ships iPhones with a pre-installed app that uses the LiDAR scanner in a very clever way.
Simply swipe down from the top of your screen to pull up the Search bar, then type in Measure.
Open the Measure app and you’ll be presented with a camera viewfinder.
You can use this to measure any real-world object with astonishing accuracy and precision.
Secret #3 – loads of apps use it!
But that’s not all: lots of apps use LiDAR to improve augmented reality features.
The Ikea Place app lets you place furniture in your home to correct scale, so you can see what they’d look like.
Then there’s Canvas that allows you to capture a 3D image of an entire room that you can use for virtual tours.
And don’t forget Playground AR that lets you play with virtual blocks, cars and dice on a real-world view of your tabletop or floor to experiment with physics.
Remember that LiDAR-friendly apps have only recently been created for the iPhone.
So we can expect to see many more in the coming months and years.
Keep an eye on the App Store for the late LiDAR apps.
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