http://www.news.com.au/technology/gadgets/mobile-phones/from-smart-glasses-to-smarter-smartphones-apple-backs-augmented-reality-as-next-big-thing/news-story/bba04a96ac0111dedaddf4b2b6c5f126

From smart glasses to smarter smartphones, Apple backs augmented reality as next big thing

APPLE has apparently picked its next big thing and the focus for the future, from smart phones to smart wearables, is augmented reality.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been spruiking the benefits of AR for a year, earlier this year calling it the technology “for everyone: and likely to have as big an impact as the iPhone.

“I think that AR is that big,” he said.

“It’s huge.”

Last year, inspired by the success of Pokemon Go, he made similarly bold statements, saying that people would all “have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day — it will become that much a part of you”.

But a new report by leading Apple reporter Mark Gurman today shows just how much Cook is backing AR as the way ahead for Apple.

Apple is expected to release AR features in the 10th anniversary iPhone 8, also being called the iPhone Edition, later this year.

But Gurman reports that Apple has set up a special AR division, hiring experts and buying companies just as it did in the lead up to the Apple Watch release.

Apple CEO Tim Cook shows off the latest iPhone to dancer Maddie Ziegler. Picture: AFP PHOTO / Josh EdelsonThe AR division reportedly includes hundreds of engineers and key people formally from the Oculus and HoloLens virtual reality sets, 3D gaming companies and Hollywood special effects firms including Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital.

Apple’s stock has hit a record high today with long-term analyst Gene Munster telling Bloomberg that AR would replace the iPhone in the long-term as Apple’s key moneymaker.

The new report today follows recent leaks by KGI analyst Ming Chi-Kuo that the flagship iPhone this year would have a 3D camera that could make a model of a person’s face to be used with augmented reality applications.

There was also a recent patent granted to Apple showing how augmented reality might revolutionise Apple Maps, adding a layer of GPS and factual information onto images of a scene.

In another report today, a Korean news agency is reporting the new iPhone 8 will have a “water drop design” that will echo the original iPhone rather than the flatter designs of recent years.

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