Snapchat Makes Use of New LiDAR Scanner on iPhone 12 Pro

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By this point, everyone knew exactly what Apple was going to announce at its October event announcing the new iPhone 12 lineup. Being a month late because of a manufacturing holdup due to the coronavirus, there were too many leaks. There were no surprises. Our only news lies with how the phones will be used. Snapchat is the first to make use of the new LiDAR scanner on the iPhone 12 Pro.

LiDAR Scanner on iPhone 12 Pro

LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging. A LiDAR scanner measures the length of time it takes light to reach an object and reflect it back. It works with the machine-learning capabilities and dev frameworks to interpret your surroundings.

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Apple is using this technology in the iPhone 12 Pro models in its newest lineup. This allows it to “see in the dark,” thus improving low-light photography. It can also speed up AR to where it seems instantaneous.

The LiDAR technology allows app developers to scan rooms and enable objects — a myriad of possibilities. It’s a dramatic improvement to photos and videos.

Snapchat Using LiDAR on iPhone 12 Pro

Snapchat is known for its AR photo filters, putting objects in the frame with you, such as crazy glasses, hats, and even switching your face with the person next to you. Snapchat announced alongside the Apple Event that it will be launching a LiDAR-powered lens specifically for the iPhone 12 Pro.

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In this screenshot of the Apple event, you can see how the AR lens in the Snapchat app is used. It’s inserted the huge flower on the table and grass on the floor. Birds are flying into the woman’s hand. Instead of just adding objects to her, it’s adding objects to her surroundings.

But there is depth here with the grass appearing further away toward the back of the room. It couldn’t be captured in the screenshot, but the birds don’t just appear “on top” of the woman as a layer. They move behind her and disappear from view when they do, then land on her hand.

If you have a spare hour or so, watch the Apple Event and check out how the LiDAR sensor works, specifically how it will work in Snapchat. If you don’t want to watch the entire event, catch it at 59:41 to see the Snapchat filter at work with the LiDAR scanner.

If you’re in the market for a new iPhone or any other Apple merch, read on to find out when it’s the best time to buy.

Image Credit: Screenshot of Apple Event via YouTube and public domain

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.

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