iOS 13 brings a feature allowing camera apps to simultaneously capture photos, video, and audio from multiple cameras and microphones.
According to Apple’s documentation, simultaneous capture of photos and video from multiple cameras is supported on devices powered by the Apple A12 Bionic chip or newer. As an illustration, simultaneous capture of the output from the front and back cameras into a single movie file requires an iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max or iPhone XR smartphone, or a 2018 iPad Pro.
Like RAW capture, the feature isn’t found in Apple‘s own stock Camera app, it’s simply providing multi-camera capture to developers to implement in their apps using official APIs.
The obvious application for the feature is picture-in-picture support — which Apple briefly outlined during its WWDC keynote earlier this week — allowing a video recording app to simultaneously record the user’s face from the front TrueDepth camera while recording a full video from the main camera on the back. The user can then switch between two camera feeds when playing back the multi-cam video in the Photos app.
The new API will also allow for the simultaneous capture of metadata from each camera as well as using multiple microphones for depth. That said, the new feature isn’t without its limitations, as apps won’t be recording 4K 60fps video from multiple cameras simultaneously, and it won’t be possible to do multiple sessions with multiple cameras or multiple cameras in multiple apps at the same time.
“Due to power constraints on mobile devices, unlike on Mac, iPhones and iPads will be limited to a single session of multi-cam, meaning you can’t do multiple sessions with multiple cameras or multiple cameras in multiple apps simultaneously,” reads the report. “There will also be various supported device combinations dictating what combination of capture from what cameras are supported on certain devices.”
The feature opens up massive creative potential for developers, and it’s almost certain that we’re going to see a new wave of intelligent photography apps coming out on the heels of iOS 13’s release later this year.