Bye bye Wi-Fi: iOS code hints Apple may switch to super fast Li-Fi on future iPhones

apple li fi ios code news iphone 6s 7840 1500x1000
Operating system code can sometimes give us clues as to where a company is headed in terms of development. And that could be happening with iOS, as one Twitter user has spotted something interesting called “LiFiCapability,” which first appeared in iOS 9.1 code. It was further confirmed by Apple Insider, which claims that Apple might incorporate Li-Fi technology in future iPhones and iPads.

So what is Li-Fi and what are its advantages?

Li-Fi, which was invented by Harold Hass in 2011, is very similar to Wi-Fi in that it’s used to transmit data, but it uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) instead of radio frequency waves. It works by using visible light communications (VLC) to switch the current to the LEDs off and on at a very fast rate. Think of your lights flickering, but so quickly that you can’t actually see it. It is this flickering that enables the transmission of data. What’s even more interesting is that although the LEDs have to be on in order to transmit data, they could be dimmed to well below human visibility and still be effective.

Li-Fi’s biggest advantage is speed. Researchers at the University of Oxford were able to achieve bi-directional speeds of 224 gigabits per second (Gbps) with an LED bulb last February. That was already much faster than fiber optic networks found today, but a pilot test done by Velmenni in offices and industrial environments in Tallinn, Estonia late last year resulted in speeds up to 1GB per second (GBps). That’s 100 times faster than current Wi-Fi technologies.

Harold Hass revealed his vision for the technology in a TED Talk last November, where he suggested that a small microchip could be fitted into every illumination device. Imagine billions of light bulbs that have have Li-Fi capability built into them, offering super-fast speeds to all your devices.

How does Apple fit in?

Although incorporating Li-Fi tech into future iOS devices may be in the cards, it is completely unknown what Apple’s plans are, because all we have is some code to speculate about. However, because many of the major players consider Li-Fi to potentially be the future of data transmission, we would be surprised if Apple and every other smartphone manufacturer didn’t pursue it at some point.

Unfortunately it’s not ready for prime time yet. Deepak Solanki, CEO of Velmenni, said that it could be as much as three to four years before consumers can use LED lights to transmit data.

So if Apple is indeed working toward incorporating Li-Fi technology into its devices, it probably won’t be in the iPhone 7. It’s impossible to say when Li-Fi will reach our smartphones, but Wi-Fi could soon go extinct if the tech succeeds.

Mobile

Leave the laptop at home, the iPad Pro is the travel buddy to take on vacay

The iPad Pro is a powerful tablet that's perfect for creatives and professionals. How does it fare when traveling with it as a laptop replacement? We took it on a two week trek in Japan to find out.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Computing

Fix those internet dead zones by turning an old router into a Wi-Fi repeater

Is there a Wi-Fi dead zone in your home or office? A Wi-Fi repeater can help. Don't buy a new one, though. Here is how to extend Wi-Fi range with another router you have lying around.
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Computing

Windows 10 user activity logs are sent to Microsoft despite users opting out

Windows 10 Privacy settings may not be enough to stop PCs from releasing user activity data to Microsoft. Users discovered that opting out of having their data sent to Microsoft does little to prevent it from being released.
Outdoors

Google Maps makes it easier than ever to find a Lime bike or scooter

Google Maps has added a new feature that helps you find a Lime bike or scooter in just a few taps. The feature currently works in 11 U.S. cities served by Lime, with more coming next year.
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.
Mobile

Quirky smartphone accessories you never knew you needed

Looking for a few accoutrements to make your smartphone even better? If you, or someone you know, is a sucker for accessories, you'll want to check out our collection of quirky smartphone accessories you never knew you needed.
Music

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.
Deals

Walmart drops prices on Apple Watches and other fitness trackers

Smartwatches, fitness trackers, and wearable heart rate monitors from Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and Garmin are popular gifts. Wearables are smarter and more capable than in earlier years. We found the best wearables deals on Walmart.
Wearables

The best Wear OS watches

There are a ton of different Wear OS watches out there, but which one's right for you? No matter what you're looking for from a smartwatch, here are the best Wear OS watches out there.
Emerging Tech

Capture app saves money by 3D scanning objects using iPhone’s TrueDepth camera

Capture is a new iPhone app created by the Y Combinator-backed startup Standard Cyborg. It allows anyone to perform 3D scans of objects and share them with buddies. Here's how it works.
Home Theater

How to master your equalizer settings for the perfect sound

You may know what an EQ is, but do you know how to adjust equalizer settings for the best possible sound? We go through the basics of the modern EQ and lay out some guidelines for how to achieve tip-top sound from your system.
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.