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. LiDAR 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.
Looking further ahead, multiple rumors point to Apple’s augmented reality headset being released in 2022 followed by a sleeker pair of augmented reality glasses coming in 2023. For everything we know on Apple’s AR/VR plans, be sure to check our dedicated roundup.