- Apple’s next iPhone may support the 802.11ay Wi-Fi standard, according to Macotakara.
- The standard would enable low-latency Wi-Fi connections and more precise location tracking, which could be critical for augmented reality and other new features.
- Apple already built more accurate spatial awareness into the iPhone with the iPhone 11’s Ultra Wideband chip, and adding this new Wi-Fi standard would only further such efforts.
While much of the noise around Apple’s next iPhone has mostly centered on its expected support for 5G networks, a new report from Japanese tech blog Macotakara suggests the iPhone 12 could get a noticeable bump in Wi-Fi performance as well.
Apple’s next smartphone lineup, expected to be called the iPhone 12, will reportedly include support for the 802.11ay Wi-Fi standard, which uses faster 60GHz millimeter wave spectrum instead of the 2.5GHz and 5GHz bands that many of today’s Wi-Fi routers use.
But it does have some notable limitations. It struggles with moving through solid structures like walls and furniture, as Ars Technicanotes, making it idea for short-range connections to devices located within the same room.
Still, that could make it ideal for bringing improved augmented reality to the iPhone, a technology that Apple CEO Tim Cook has expressed excitement about in the past.
Apple did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
Qualcomm has already been doing a lot of work when it comes to bringing this standard to mobile devices. It announced new mobile chipsets that support this standard in 2018, for example.
As Qualcomm noted in its announcement at the time, 802.11ay’s potential for delivering fast, low-latency connections over short distances could make it particularly useful for use cases like game streaming, augmented and virtual reality, and more precise location detection.
Those qualities could be especially important for Apple’s next smartphone, as rumors suggest augmented reality will play a big role in it. Apple is reportedly planning to outfit its next iPhone and iPad Pro products with depth-sensing cameras that will be better equipped to scan the real world and recreate it digitally in augmented reality, according to Bloomberg.
802.11ay Wi-Fi networks are said to have qualities that could be vastly useful in AR and VR applications. Such networks would have low enough latency to rival that of wired connections, according to Qualcomm, a characteristic that would be critical in delivering realistic AR and VR apps wirelessly. The chipmaker also discusses how chips that support 60GHz Wi-Fi would be better at tracking location and gestures more precisely, which also sounds like it would fit in with Apple’s strategy for improving the iPhone experience.
Beyond Apple’s interest in augmented reality, which CEO Tim Cook has discussed publicly on numerous occasions, the iPhone 11 illustrates how Apple is thinking about baking more intelligence into the iPhone when it comes to spatial awareness. Apple’s iPhone 11 lineup comes with Ultra Wideband technology, which Apple describes as “GPS at the scale of your living room.”
The immediate benefit to a technology like this is faster transfers through AirDrop, the feature that lets Apple device owners share files with other compatible gadgets wirelessly. But the iPhone maker is also rumored to be developing wireless tags similar to Tile that could be placed on objects like keys or a wallet so that their location can be tracked through an iPhone.
Technologies like Apple’s Ultra Wideband chip, and the new rumors suggesting that it may build low-latency Wi-Fi that’s optimal for location tracking into the iPhone, would seemingly make sense for the iPhone if Apple were to launch such a product.
Beyond support for 5G and 802.11ay Wi-Fi, the next iPhone is rumored to come with a refreshed design, OLED screens across all models, and a fingerprint sensor built into its display.
Macotakara has reported some correct details about Apple product launches in the past. For example, the outlet said that Apple’s 2019 iPhone would come with an 18-watt charger in the box and a USB-C to Lightning cable, as the iPhone 11 Pro does. It also said the next-generation iPhone XR — which ended up being the iPhone 11 — would come in new lavender and green color options.