"The 3-D mapping technology and the [augmented reality] capabilities are definitely the most appealing updates," said Loup Ventures founder and famed Apple analyst Gene Munster.
Apple is expected to use 3-D mapping tech in the iPhone 8 for authentication purposes, allowing users to unlock their phone or make Apple Pay payments by looking at the phone so it can scan their visage. The scanning technology is supposed to work from multiple angles and can unlock the phone within a few hundred milliseconds, according to MacRumors.
KGI Securities Co. Ltd. analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said this facial recognition technology could replace Touch ID entirely on the new iPhone. Facial scanning technology already has been seen on other phones, including Samsung Corp.'s (SSNLF) Galaxy S8 smartphone, released in April, and its Note 8 phone, expected to launch Sept. 15. Munster noted this feature may not be ready on the iPhone 8 until 2018.
The 3-D sensor in the front camera also would improve the quality of selfies and could be used in gaming, allowing users to replace their face with a character.
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The AR features on the iPhone, meanwhile, also are sure to be a "big deal" when the device is unveiled in a few weeks, Munster said. The rumored 3-D mapping chip can help in AR by making virtual objects look like they're part of reality and you can touch them. Developers will be able to work this technology into their own apps after Apple unveiled its AR developer platform, ARKit, at its annual developer's conference, WWDC, in June.
While AR is still in its early stages, iPhone 8 users eventually should be able to use it in gaming, to translate street signs, to pull up a person's social media profile, as well as for unique tasks such as being able to hold up your phone in your living room and get a clear picture of what certain pieces of furniture would look like in the space.
While it's hard for us to imagine all of the tasks that AR will be able to help us with, that's what happens with innovation, Munster said. When Apple first launched the App Store in 2008 with about 500 apps, people were unsure of how to use apps or what they would look like in the future. Now the App Store had more than 2.2 million apps as of May.
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Other notable updates coming to the iPhone 8 include a larger, bezel-free curved screen with an OLED display and wireless charging. The phone is rumored to go on sale on Sept. 22 for about $999. Apple is expected to provide more details about its features and release date at the Sept. 12 product launch event.
Because of the hype behind the iPhone 8, a number of iPhone users have held off on upgrading their device to wait for this 10th-anniversary edition of the smartphone. A number of analysts believe this pent-up demand will create a so-called supercycle that affects the share price. While Munster didn't say for certain that it will create a supercycle, he did say it will be as close as Apple can get to a supercycle.
Shares of Apple on the afternoon of Wednesday, Aug. 30, were down 18 cents, or 0.1%, to $162.73.
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