Numerous reports floating around the interwebs suggest that Apple is finally making its move into the augmented reality ecosystem. This is one of those avenues which the company has left untouched(or probably unexplored) for the past couple of years. And fresh reports from Business Insider further fan the fire by suggesting that Apple is looking to integrate AR functionalities into the iPhone’s camera.

Apple is aiming to bring AR technology to the user’s camera software which will enable them to point their iPhones at a real-world object and have it be recognized, report sources privy to the matter. Another application of the technology which the tech behemoth plans add to the camera software is very much similar to that popularised by Snapchat. Yep, you guessed it right!

The Cupertino giant is looking to expand the scope its facial recognition tech used in the photos app to recognize the user’s face in real-time using the camera. This real-time recognition will then enable the user to manipulate their faces with a multitude of AR masks. Similar face manipulation features are also available on Facebook’s recently acquired MSQRD app and its Snapchat clone called ‘Flash’ for developing nations.

To build and integrate machine learning algos as complex and robust as the aforementioned apps, Apple has reportedly been working with a handful of AR startups. The teams of budding AR startups Metaio and Flyby Media, acquired in 2015 and 2016 respectively, are also working on the integration of augmented reality models into the camera app.

Sources also suggest that once the AR features are integrated into iPhone’s camera app, Apple is expected to also release an SDK for the developers to make use of the integration. Other companies can then use the same to develop new apps to seamlessly run on the iPhone, which has till date lacked any support for the said technology. This technology could debut with the next iteration of the iPhone, i.e the eight, which is also the tenth anniversary of the device.

From the sound of it, this software project could be Apple’s idea of making augmented reality available to its users until they develop the full-fledged hardware and software combo. The tech behemoth is surprisingly said to be working on a pair of augmented reality glasses, whose functionality could be synonymous to Google Glass. It has already ordered small quanitities of internal components, such as glasses to start with the development and testing process. These glasses are expected to be released sometime in 2018.

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