The new feature is said to take aspects of scenes in a TV show, such as characters or objects, and display them on the viewer’s iPhone or iPad so they can be seen as if they existed in the user’s surrounding environment.
For example, someone watching a moon-walking scene in the Apple show “For All Mankind” might be able to see a virtual lunar rover on their device’s display, seemingly perched atop their living room coffee table. The option would serve as bonus content akin to the director commentary or trailer that accompany a movie download and would be accessed from Apple’s TV app on the iPhone or iPad.
The AR feature is expected to debut next year, ahead of an Apple headset in 2022 that will be built around augmented and virtual reality, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to discuss the plan publicly.
Gurman says that Apple intended to release the AR feature for Apple TV+ later this year, but the impact of the global health crisis pushed back the launch. Gurman’s sources also cautioned that Apple could decide to ditch the plan entirely.
According to Bloomberg and other sources, Apple will debut laser-powered time-of-flight 3D cameras in its upcoming iPhone 12 lineup that promise significant improvements to AR experiences. The cameras are thought to be similar to the LiDAR Scanner feature that Apple added in the 2020 iPad Pro models. AR remains chronically underused, however, because Apple currently only offers two of its own AR features – Animoji and the Measure app – and relies on third-party app developers to provide additional AR utilities and experiences using its ARKit framework.
Looking further ahead, multiple rumors point to Apple’s augmented reality headset being released in 2022, and a recent report claimed Apple and Foxconn have reached a key milestone in the development of the long-rumored AR headset, with the semitransparent lenses for the device moving from prototype to trial production.
An earlier report from Bloomberg‘s Gurman indicated that Apple’s AR and VR projects have been hampered by internal divisions over whether Apple should emphasize graphics and processing power in a design that would connect wirelessly to a nearby hub or a more personal approach with lesser capabilities but which can be contained entirely within the headset.
Apple is said to have multiple AR and VR projects in the works beyond the initial headset, known by the code name of N301, with a sleeker pair of AR glasses known as N421 that could launch in 2023. For everything we know on Apple’s AR/VR plans, be sure to check our dedicated roundup.