Apple is working to give the 2017 iPhone 8 a massive redesign to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. A patent granted to Apple on Tuesday indicates that the Cupertino company could debut augmented reality mapping system with the iPhone 8. The US Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple patent for a technology titled “Augmented reality maps.”

iPhone 8 AR Technology
Image Credit: USPTO / Apple Inc.

Will Apple add this tech in iPhone 8?

Apple had first filed the patent application in 2011. The company has since made only a few minor changes to the documents for clarification. The patent describes a mapping app that taps into the iPhone’s hardware and sensors to give you a real-time augmented view of your surrounding environment, reports Apple Insider. AR adds a virtual layer to the real world, allowing the physical and virtual objects to interact in real time.

For example, you can open your iPhone’s main camera to use the AR feature within the Maps app. The patented technology will automatically correlate your GPS data with data from onboard sensors to figure out the phone’s position, tilt, and alignment. Using all this information, the system can determine the live scene and visually augment it with mapping information downloaded from a server.

Tim Cook is bullish on augmented reality

In its patent filing, Apple also describes a method to generate interactive route guidance with onscreen path indicators overlaid onto the live video, says Apple Insider. It can also alert you when you are heading down a one-way street. The system can switch display formats from live streaming video to a bird’s-eye view to offer you a seamless experience in augmented reality mode.

Apple has been betting big on augmented reality. Tim Cook has said on several occasions that AR will eventually become a bigger opportunity than virtual reality. In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Cook said there was no substitute for human contact. However, it’s too early to say whether the technology will be incorporated in the iPhone 8. Apple is granted hundreds of patents every year, and not all of them make it to the final products.

Apple will need to fix battery life, processing-related issues

Last week, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a research note to investors that the first Apple products with augmented reality will arrive in one or two years. Kuo believes that Apple would incorporate the technology in the future iPhones, Apple Watch, Apple Car, and other products. It would be interesting to see how Apple fixes the issues related to processing power and battery life to add AR to its devices.

The Cupertino company has acquired several startups such as Faceshift, Perceptio, and Metaio to beef up its AR technology. The iPhone 8 is said to feature an edge-to-edge OLED display. The home functionality, fingerprint sensor, and other sensors are said to be embedded in the display itself.