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Apple appears to be getting ready to add more sophisticated augmented reality features to the next iPhone, based on the comments of a component supplier on Thursday. On its earnings call, Finisar said it expects one company to account for millions of units of a specialized laser. While it didn't mention Apple by name, Loup Ventures said Friday it believes Apple is that unnamed customer.

Why it matters: Apple already added its ARKit to the next version of the iPhone operating system; Adding AR capabilities to the iPhone could help distinguish it in the increasingly competitive smartphone market. Loup also said that based on Finisar's comments it expects the next iPhone to be announced in September and ship in October.

Loup Ventures says it expects Finisar to be one of several suppliers of the specialized laser, known as a VCSEL. In May, another supplier, Lumentum, said it anticipated to start volume shipments of the same type of laser in the second half of the year.

Apple is putting the hammer down in AR. The company already has more than 100m AR-enabled iPhones (iPhone 7) in use today, and all versions of the next iPhone will be AR-enabled. Incorporating these high-end VCSEL lasers into the iPhone will enrich the augmented reality experience. Coupled with the release of the ARKit at WWDC in early June, Apple is positioning itself to become a leader in this next generation tech movement. Separately, Apple is cornering the market for the VCSEL sensors.

Go deeper

Omicron cases confirmed in 4 U.S. states

A healthcare worker inserts a Covid-19 rapid test into a machine in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Daniel Brenner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Five cases of the newly-discovered Omicron variant were detected in New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday, making New York the fourth state with confirmed cases.

The latest: In addition to New York, the variant has been confirmed in California, Colorado and Minnesota.

Early winter heat shatters records in U.S., Canada

Temperature departures from average on Dec. 2, 2021, as depicted by the GFS computer model. (Weatherbell.com)

A widespread and intense heatwave is roasting large portions of the U.S. and Canada, shattering daily and monthly temperature records.

Why it matters: Winter is the fastest-warming season across the U.S., and the lingering warmth is shortening the snow season in places like Colorado and Montana, where mountain snowpack is a critical source of water during the summer months.

5 hours ago - Science

COVID time warp

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The start of the COVID-19 pandemic seems like a lifetime ago to some, and just yesterday to others. Scientists are beginning to unpack the way people processed the passage of time amidst the stress, uncertainty and isolation of the 1 year, 8 months and 21 days since WHO declared a pandemic.

Why it matters: The pandemic's global effects on how people experience time could provide new insights into the brain's ability to perceive and predict time — a fundamental feature of life.

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