LiDAR: A Pro feature for iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max

Photo of author

By Erric Buttlar

The iPad Pro and Apple 12 Pro Max do not support LiDAR addition to the Apple 12 Pro. Here’s how and why you can use LiDAR.

Apple puts a LiDAR chip in each of its iPhone 12 Pro, iPad Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max models. It is rarely mentioned on Apple’s site, and it is not an app that Apple offers.

It makes sense that the LiDAR might be available in the Camera app, or at least in Settings. Nope.

It’s also not a lot of incentive to search for such controls since it’s hard to realize what LiDAR is capable of until you see it in action. You’ll be able to scan your surroundings in 3D.

While Apple lets LiDAR spice up existing apps, for now, the company does not officially support the technology.

LiDAR usage

Don’t give up on Apple’s Measure app. LiDAR now helps the app a lot.

Measuring is easy because it senses the environment quickly. By scanning your whole environment, LiDAR makes measurements more precise.

While measurement is good in theory, it is far more useful in practice nowadays. The app is now good enough, and quick enough, to be used anywhere, rather than an app for rough measurements without a tape measure.

Then, LiDAR makes your camera’s autofocus faster – but it’s not easy to see. The reason is that LiDAR maps the environment around you, so as you tap the button to take the shot, it begins to calculate how far or near an object is.

There are already third-party apps that can do much more than Measure and autofocus, however. Several of these feel like experiments to figure out what’s possible.

There are generally two things they excel at. Objects can be photographed or 3D images of the environment can be captured with these cameras.

Taking in your surroundings

Get your surroundings scanned for free with LiDAR 3D Measurements for iPhone. You can then tap the Measure button to get your surroundings measured.

As seen on Star Trek, the Holodeck. It is located next to a camera view of the current view. Your surroundings become visible as you turn.

You lose detail if you move too quickly. Slow scanning can leave the app without enough memory. To display a 360° view of your room, this is a compromise between detail and completeness.

From the iPhone, you can view an isomorphic projection of the room, rotate it using a gesture, and zoom in to see the space from every aspect. When that happens, you will now be able to view the room in full-screen closeup, and you can then choose to either swipe to move around, or physically move your phone.

Upon turning your phone around, you will see an accurate representation of the environment. It is not necessary to be physically present.

Examine the scan elsewhere instead of with your phone. See your office on your iPhone while standing in the field, for instance. This makes it seem as if you are walking around an office.

There is no doubt – police officers will be scanning crime scenes with LiDAR. This scan will be the deciding clue in an upcoming episode of “NCIS.”.

Laser scanning

This feature is already available on certain Apple products. Your iPhone can provide you, for example, with an image of what a Mac Pro would look like on your desk, using augmented reality and scanned images. Using LiDAR scanners, images of objects can be captured.

It seemed optimized for scanning rooms in our testing, but Canvas is capable. Objects and rooms can also be scanned with the 3D Scanner App.

LiDAR scanning apps are also increasing in number, with many of them free to test out.

As you scan, a grid covers your object and gets filled in and replaced.

How to use LiDAR scans

Any new house you’re considering buying should have a LiDAR scan. Unfortunately, when scanning a room you cannot import furniture scans.

Compare apartments to determine their size. Rather than relying on floor plans and measurements, walking around each apartment is much more intuitive.

Make a quick LiDAR scan of the boxes you still have in storage, rather than listing them.

LiDAR scans, measurements, and photographs can all be used for the benefit of the user who took them. You can typically send the scan to someone who has the same app.

Canvas, for instance, offers an online scanning option. A virtual room is not the same as turning your phone on and off. The 360-degree image can be viewed on a Mac.

How LiDAR will change the world in the future

Apps will become more sophisticated as developers learn more about the technology. New ways to share or download scans will surely follow.

Recent supply chain predictions predict LiDAR will make its way into the whole iPhone lineup. “Apple Car” may also benefit from it.

We may then see more of Apple AR.


Leave a Comment