Apple is hard at work getting its 2017 iPhones ready for prime time later this year, but as part of that release, the company is anticipated to also include new augmented reality features and updates for Siri.

In order for that to happen, Apple is said to be working on a dedicated processor that a new report by Bloomberg says will be devoted entirely to artificial intelligence tech.

Apparently called “Apple Neural Engine” inside Apple, the new chip will allow for improved facial and voice recognition capabilities, both of which could give augmented reality and Siri a big leg up, particularly compared to what is available via hardware already built into Apple’s devices.

The new chip would let Apple offload those tasks onto a dedicated module designed specifically for demanding artificial intelligence processing, allowing Apple to improve battery performance…. The Apple AI chip is designed to make significant improvements to Apple’s hardware over time, and the company plans to eventually integrate the chip into many of its devices, including the iPhone and iPad, according to the person with knowledge of the matter.

While improvements to Siri are a no-brainer at this point, the arrival of augmented reality capabilities may not be a surprise as such, but would represent a new angle for Apple. Rumors of augmented reality features making their way into iOS devices are not new, and as the iPhone 8 continues to be heavily leaked, it is this flagship device that is expected to include cameras capable of advanced 3D-sensing capabilities. This would be vital for such things as improved facial recognition and 3D image capture.

Bloomberg’s report claims that Apple has already been testing prototypes of its new Neural Engine inside iPhones, although it is not yet clear whether that has taken place early enough in the development cycle for it to take its place in the iPhone 8 or whether 2018 iPhones will be the first to boast it. Given the cameras said to be coming to the iPhone 8, we do suspect that Apple at least wants to get things together for this year.

(Source: Bloomberg)

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