Does the future iPhone include Lytro’s technology?

apple meets lytro

Make sure to check out our full Lytro Camera review.

If we can say anything about Steve Jobs, it’s that his death was premature. The Apple innovator had a lot of ground left to cover and was likely only getting started revolutionizing the face of consumer electronics in numerous ways and fields. A new book detailing some of this unfinished innovation, Inside Apple, reveals that Jobs had plans to impact the digital photography industry.

Not that he hasn’t already: the iPhone 4S has set the bar for smartphone cameras and bested a considerable amount of point-and-shoot competition out there. The iPhone in general has been a crucial cog in a machine that’s pulling people toward their phones’ camera versus investing in a pocket camera. We’ve talked about how this is weeding out a certain sector, and camera manufacturers are responding with connected devices—some are even taking the smartphone model and turning it on its head (a camera with a phone and apps versus a phone with apps and a camera).  

But this wasn’t all that Jobs had in mind. According to 9to5Mac, which received an advance copy of the unreleased book, the Apple founder was impressed by the recently launched Lytro camera. Months before his death, Jobs set up a meeting with Lytro CEO and inventor Ren Ng:

“The company’s CEO, Ren Ng, a brilliant computer scientist with PhD from Stanford, immediately called Jobs, who picked up the phone and quickly said, ‘if you’re free this afternoon maybe we could get together.’ Ng, who is thirty-two, hurried to Palo Alto, showed Jobs a demo of Lytro’s technology, discussed cameras and product design with him, and, at Jobs’ request, agreed to send him an email outlining three things he’d like Lytro to do with Apple.”

Ng did this, although a deal was never made official between the two companies.

From the moment Lytro debuted, it has seemed perfectly suited to smartphone photography. The touchscreen interface, lack of manual controls, and reproduction (via interactive display) all lend themselves to this medium. After getting hands-on time with the camera, we’re only more convinced: it’s incredibly simple and quick. It turns on-the-go, mindlessly-taken photos into works of art.

However, Lytro has said it isn’t interested in licensing its technology to other manufacturers. As Ng initially put it, “We can do it better.” But he also said “never say never.” Jobs was nearly obsessed with improving the iPhone’s shutter lag and allowing the camera to take in more light, and as we all know by now those two things are Lytro’s specialty. That’s enough to have us wondering if we’re going to see Lytro technology in a future iteration of the iPhone.

Jobs’ interest in reinventing the digital photography industry will come to fruition—his visions for TV and textbooks are being carried out before our eyes right now. Lytro’s current build means it’s highly unlikely that it’s destined for the iPhone 5 (the new 13-megapixel, tiny CMOS sensor from Sony stands a better chance). Lytro has a tube-like design which is crucial to its plenoptic camera mechanism. It’s not thin and slim like the iPhone 5 is purported to be, and this simply isn’t something we see Apple sacrificing. And besides, the iPhone 4S currently takes higher res photos than Lytro does.

Of course there’s the fact that until photo-sharing platforms support the software, focusing-and-refocusing Lytro pictures is impossible (although we imagine major players like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are working with Lytro on this). As it stands, this is only possible via Lytro’s own gallery.

But we’re not ready to throw the towel in on an Apple-Lytro collaboration just yet. If any company is going to integrate this groundbreaking technology into a smartphone (something that’s absolutely going to happen, and companies have already experimented with it), Apple has a lot of motivation to get there first. 

Gaming

New ‘Stardew Valley’ content on the way, as game’s maker freezes next project

Stardew Valley creator Eric Barone said that he will continue working on new content for the indie farming simulator. The developer previously said that he will devote all his time to his next game, but that has been placed on hold for now.
Home Theater

What is Terrarium TV? Here’s everything you need to know

Terrarium TV offered a way to watch movies & TV for free, but now after a troubled existence, the app's developer has shut it down, and offered an ominous message to users on his way out.
Smart Home

Rocco wants to rock out. Parrot learns to use owner’s Amazon Alexa

Rocco, an African gray parrot, fell in love with his owner's Alexa unit and ordered himself treats and other goodies, but mostly uses the smart assistant to rock out to his favorite music.
Gaming

Skateboarding legend says ‘Tony Hawk’s Skate Jam’ will appeal to his fans

Tony Hawk's Skate Jam is now available for free on iOS and Android devices, and Digital Trends had the chance to talk to the legendary skater about its development and how it captures the magic of his best games.
Mobile

Ditch your smartphone for a year and win $100k from Vitaminwater

Vitaminwater is willing to part with $100,000 if you're willing to part with your smartphone partner for a year. Could you last for a year armed with only a 1996-era phone? Here's your chance to find out.
Deals

The best Apple Watch deals for December 2018

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Deals

The best MacBook deals for December 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.
Deals

The best iPhone deals for December 2018

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for December 2018.
Deals

The best iPad deals for December 2018

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for December 2018.
Computing

How to connect AirPods to your MacBook

If you have new AirPods, you may be looking forward to pairing them with your MacBook. Our guide will show you exactly how to connect AirPods to MacBook, what to do if they are already paired with a device, and more.
Mobile

How to switch from iPhone to Android: The ultimate guide

If you've decided to bridge the great tech divide and leave Apple's walled garden for the unknown shores of Android, then you'll find all the tips and advice you need to begin switching from an iPhone to an Android device.
Mobile

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks of the best portable chargers.
Computing

Which Macs are compatible with MacOS Mojave?

Is your computer ready for Apple's big Mojave update? Here's what you need to know about MacOS Mojave compatibility, what Macs can successful download Mojave, and the requirements you need to know about.
Computing

MacBook Pro battery replacement: Everything you need to know

Looking for a new battery for your MacBook Pro? It's important you know what to look for, what model you have, and what options Apple gives you! We'll cover everything you need to know about Apple MacBook Pro battery replacement.