Apple has patented new camera technology that could bring true zoom lenses to future iPhones and iPads, allowing us to optically zoom in on subjects rather than rely on digital zoom, which simply enlarges the image at the cost of image quality.
The patent looks set to bring moveable lenses to iPhones. which will be used to zoom in to distant objects. We're not currently sure if the inclusion of moveable lenses would dramatically alter the design of iPhones and iPads.
The cameras that come with iPhones have a reputation for being impressive, with the snappers in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus recently being lauded as the best cameras ever to be included in a smartphone, but it appears Apple won't be resting on its laurels with the patent also including a new type of light splitter that will be included in the iSight camera.
Steady as she goes
The light splitter, which Apple invented in 2011 but has only been granted the patent recently, is a cube that splits light from the camera into three colour components, each of which has its own image sensor mix.
The light splitter can be used in optical image stabilisation, which offers better results than the digital image stabilisation that's found in the iPhone 6 Plus, and which relies on the A8 chip, gyroscope and M8 motion coprocessor to measure movement and compensate for it.
Instead, a folding mirror could be tilted and moved by an actuator to stabilise camera shots.
Will the new patent bring improved cameras to the next batch of iPhones and iPads? Apple has waited long enough to be granted this patent, so hopefully it will make use of it soon.