Apple’s iOS, to have 3D UI Element Based on Ambient Light

Source: Apple iOS 6/ Apple

There were speculations that Apple’s future iOS iteration could employ three-dimensional user interface. This unique UI could be made possible using an input from a mobile device’s ambient light sensor, which cast shadows on app icons and creating a 3D illusion.

Placing UI Shadows Based on Real-world Lights

Buzzfeed writer Benjamin Jackson revealed an interesting detail that could make its way to iOS in the future. According to him, it is the ability for the Apple device to detect where shadows would actually lie on UI elements by detecting real-world light sources.

One employee (who I can’t name as the company does not allow employees to speak on the record without approval from media relations) said that in the future, your phone will show drop shadows based on the actual position of the light in the room, as detected by the phone’s ambient sensor—and everything in the UI will be rendered in 3D on the fly.

However, this UI is less likely to happen on current iDevices since its sensors can only detect incidental light. But there is a possible workaround here by combining gyroscope, accelerometer and ambient light sensor. It could also happen by including specialized filters and new sensors; although there are no evidence that these features will see the light of day anytime soon.

Apple’s Attention to Minute Details

The idea of a three-dimensional user interface for the next iOS surfaced after one of the many small tweaks were seen in the latest Apple software. Some OS X application, for instance, features text from the iconic “To the crazy ones” commercial. This is something that only the sharp-eyed users would spot.

The company’s attention to minute details was also noticed in the redesigned Maps application for iOS 6. The app shows a stylized aerial view of Apple’s Cupertino campus. It can also be seen in the upcoming mobile operating system design element that uses iDevice gyroscope. This feature will change the perceived reflections on the Music app’s radio buttons, depending on how the device is being held.

Apple’s iOS 6 has already revealed a couple of interesting features of detailed animation. A full-3D interface that has real-time drop shadow would be an awesome addition to the company’s wide array of detail-oriented design decisions. However, there is no telling whether this feature will actually arrive in iOS’ shipping version. It could be that an Apple engineer is hyping up its pet project. But a three-dimensional interface on Apple devices is an interesting bit for sure.

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