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Wait, what’s a LiDAR sensor and why’s it on the iPhone 12 Pro?

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If you’ve read about autonomous cars, you might know that LiDAR sensors (Light Detection and Ranging) play a huge part in the self-driving part of the car. The job of a LiDAR sensor is to ‘map’ an area surrounding it by measuring distances of objects via reflecting light rays.

Apple introduced the sensor in its high-end iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max flagships to enhance photography. This is not the first time the company is using LiDAR sensor in its products. In March 2020, the Cupertino-based company included the sensor in its new iPad. However, the primary purpose of the sensor in that device was to aid augmented reality.

With the new iPhone, Apple claims that it’ll help you with three things: photo and video effects, precise placement of AR objects, and object and room scanning. The last two applications might be largely for developers and businesses like construction that need to map the room. For an average consumer, photo and video effects might be the most interesting part.

Because LiDAR can work in the dark by shooting lasers to calculate distances, Apple’s using it to improve the autofocus on the high-end iPhones. The company claims that because of the sensor the iPhone 12 Pro phones has 6 times faster autofocus in low light as compared to a normal camera. Plus, the LiDAR sensor enables the device to take better portrait mode photos in low-light conditions.

LiDAR scanner on the iPhone 12 Pro models

The concept of using a dedicated depth sensor is not new. Plenty of mid-range phones such as the OnePlus Nord use a depth sensor camera to enhance portrait mode photos. But these sensors work better in the daylight than low-light. Some devices such as the Huawei P30 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra have a time-of-flight (ToF) sensor. It uses infrared rays to maps the surroundings. You can read about the ToF sensor in our explainer here.

While both ToF and LiDAR can only scan the area up to a few meters in phones, some variants of the latter can measure distances more than 100 meters. However, those are used primarily on top of cars. The advantage of having a LiDAR sensor is that it sends smaller pulse rays from one corner to another to ‘scan’ the area. On the other hand, ToF sensor sends a single flash pulse to measure the area, and that can cause more accuracies when distances are calculated.

Having a LiDAR sensor on a phone will encourage more developers to probably find better uses cases for AR that are more convincing than one-time amusement demos. Snapchat has already confirmed that it’ll ship LiDAR-powered lenses on its iOS app.

Apple might not be able to convince you to buy its high-end modes just on the basis of the LiDAR sensor. However, the company hopes that if you’re an AR developer or someone who cares for quality low-light photos, it could one of the reasons for you to spend a few more dollars.

For more gear, gadget, and hardware news and reviews, follow Plugged on Twitter and Flipboard.

Published October 14, 2020 — 07:02 UTC

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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Apple will replace AirPods Pro for free with faulty noise cancellation, static or crackling

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Today, exactly one year after Apple first launched the AirPods Pro — and thus the same day the very first AirPods Pro owners will see their one-year warranties expire — Apple has launched a repair program that offers free repairs or replacements for another whole year if your AirPods Pro experience issues with noise cancellation or static.

Specifically, Apple will fix:

Crackling or static sounds that increase in loud environments, with exercise or while talking on the phone

Active Noise Cancellation not working as expected, such as a loss of bass sound, or an increase in background sounds, such as street or airplane noise

Apple says only a “small percentage of AirPods Pro” are affected by the issues, but it apparently wasn’t just an early batch — Apple says affected units were manufactured “before October 2020,” meaning every AirPods Pro ever made might be eligible. That’s quite a recall if so. Apple says it will repair faulty AirPods Pro for two years after you first buy them.

We’ve heard complaints about degraded noise cancellation before, and at least one Verge editor has replaced their AirPods Pro under warranty. It’s nice to hear that Apple isn’t just cutting buyers off as soon as that warranty expires.

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