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Friday, July 24, 2009, 08:00 pm PT (11:00 pm ET)

Augmented reality in iPhone 3.1; new Snow Leopard build

Apple promises that its upcoming iPhone 3.1 release will be the first to officially support augmented reality apps that support the iPhone 3GS' camera. Also, a new seed of Mac OS X Snow Leopard has been handed to developers.

iPhone 3.1 needed for augmented reality

iPhone developers and users excited by the prospect of augmented reality apps, which overlay information and controls on top of real-world objects seen through a camera, have been told to sit tight until the next release of the iPhone OS exits beta.

Although iPhone 3.1 has so far only been known to expose some video camera controls for developers, third-party producer Acrossair was told by Apple that the future release would be needed for its Nearest Tube and future Nearest Subway apps to work properly.

The apps are already highly dependent on the built-in compass and autofocusing camera of the iPhone 3GS, both of which are needed to alternately recognize the direction the iPhone is facing as well as to get a detailed enough look at a subject to tag it with information. As a demonstration of the technology, Acrossair's software can show the subway stops visible in a particular direction and their distance relative to the user.



Unofficially, iPhone 3.1 is anticipated to be ready by early September, just in time for Apple's by now yearly iPod updates and the seemingly probable release of an iPod touch with a camera that could take advantage of augmented reality when using Wi-Fi.

Snow Leopard 10A421

Mac developers have also been addressed on Friday with the seeding of Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10A421, according to those aware of the new beta release.

The update comes just ten days after 10A411 and is said by people familiar with the changes to be very modest on the surface, including general compatibility, security and stability fixes.

Apple's increased frequency in providing updated Snow Leopard builds is expected with just weeks left before the revision is due to reach stores, as the company will now be looking to isolate and fix the remaining obvious bugs instead of changing functionality.