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May 13, 2018

The iPhone’s viewfinder might soon let you see both cameras simultaneously

by John_A

Apple may be considering beefing up the viewfinder in the camera app for dual-lens iPhones. The company was awarded a new patent that shows views from both camera sensors on the display at the same time, essentially allowing users to see the difference between two cameras and better judge which would be better for a particular use.

The new patent is called “Digital Viewfinder User Interface for Multiple Cameras,” and shows that users would be able to zoom from both cameras where appropriate, and even offer a composite image when the appropriate zoom for a particular setting sits between the two cameras. Users would also be able to zoom each camera individually from the viewfinder.

The feature would likely be pretty helpful, if it was ever deployed. Sometimes, it makes sense to use a telephoto lens rather than the standard lens on the iPhone, but camera users can’t always discern when to use which camera. Currently, the iPhone automatically switches lenses depending on the zoom — but some prefer to have a little more control over their shots. In the patent application, it can be seen that it would also apply to video — and users could even record video from the two cameras at the same time.

The patent is actually a continuation of a patent that was first filed in 2015, and it’s unclear why Apple didn’t implement it when it was first awarded the patent. It’s possible the company didn’t use it because of the toll it would have on processing power — it already takes quite a bit of power to use one camera sensor. Still, as time goes on and Apple’s processors get more powerful, it’s possible the company could reconsider it — and the fact that it filed a continuation proves that it’s still something Apple might be working on. Of course, Apple regularly files new patents, and they often don’t make it into a new product, so it’s entirely possible that this is simply another patent that ends up never being used.

If implemented, we imagine that the new viewfinder will show up as an option, but not as the default view in the camera. Apple is also rumored to be adding a third camera to a new iPhone model — and if that happens the company may have to take the concept to the next level.

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