Maybe iPhone 8 will gain augmented reality — or maybe AR will replace the iPhone

Growing in stature among the many iPhone 8 (or iPhone X) rumors is that Apple might bring augmented reality to iOS 11 this summer and to its 10th anniversary iPhone this coming fall. After all, CEO Tim Cook has absolutely gushed about AR, even saying it will become an essential part of your daily life.

A Bloomberg report this week that details the personnel hires, company buyouts and other efforts underway at Apple involving AR is fueling speculation that big doings are indeed afoot. Apple — which declined to comment for Bloomberg — has hired those who have worked on technologies such as Oculus, HoloLens and THX audio, and has a cross-departmental group of hundreds of engineers on the project, the report says. Gene Munster, a longtime Apple watcher who recently formed Loup Ventures to invest in companies focused in areas such as AR, VR and robotics, tells Bloomberg that AR devices could even someday replace iPhones. 

MORE: AR & VR outlook: Bloody vendor battles, iPhone support and peering into IoT

While fully immersive virtual reality has grabbed most of the early glory, the more nuanced approach of AR will likely be a bigger winner, according to industry watchers like IDC’s Tom Mainelli, who spoke at the market research firm’s Directions conference earlier this month in Boston

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