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iPhone 12: Apple could be bringing over the LiDAR scanner from the 2020 iPad Pro

The successor to the iPhone 11 series is set to launch sometime later this year, a leak on Twitter has purportedly revealed that Apple is planning over to bring one of the headlining camera features from the recently-released 2020 iPad Pro. Now, a new image has surfaced on Twitter that indicates that we could be seeing a 2020 iPad Pro feature on the upcoming iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max.

You can’t actually see much in the rough design sketch that was uploaded, but what is apparent is the inclusion of a new LiDAR scanner on the rear camera module—a first for an iPhone. This will complement a more conventional lineup: a wide angle shooter, an ultra-wide lens, and a telephoto lens to zoom.

Based on what the 2020 iPad Pro can do, we’re expecting to see similar capabilities on the iPhone 12. LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging, and the technology has been used on planes and drones to 3D map of a particular setting. This means that we should be seeing significant improvement with augmented reality features on the iPhone 12—for example, when using the Measure app on the 2020 iPad Pro, the calibration process is a lot quicker.

Additionally, there have also been rumours that Apple is developing a new AR-based app, Gobi, which will allow users to have information brought up via AR when in certain places around the city. That’s certainly a really cool-sounding concept, and I think LiDAR is an essential part of that plan. And that’s not even taking into account the potential that a LiDAR scanner has for developers.

The leaked image was originally posted on Instagram by conceptsiphone, who says that the image was obtained from iOS 14 code. Do note that this isn’t a confirmation of the feature by any means, but coupled with the 2020 iPad Pro’s LiDAR scanner and reports of Gobi, the leak appears to make some sense.

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Overall, I think it’s a good move on Apple’s part—if the leak is to be believed. While competitors in the Android market have been neck-and-neck in the zoom race, it looks like Apple is doing things a little differently. What is crucial, however, is how Apple (and developers) utilise the LiDAR scanner; that’s what separates a gimmick from a game-changer.