updated 07:07 pm EDT, Wed March 12, 2014
May hint at more camera design coming in-house, leveraging PrimeSense tech
In an unusual move, Apple has greatly expanded its call for specialists and engineers connected to camera, lens, sensor and other aspects of digital imaging in recent job postings. The iPhone maker has added 15 want ads related to camera and digital imaging over the past two weeks, joining nine other listings posted last month. Camera technology has been a major selling point in Apple's mobile devices but is also a key part of its desktop and notebook offerings.
Sample iPhone 5s picture
The company has recently expanded FaceTime to handle audio-only calling and work in HD , and while the cameras and sensors it uses on the iPhone and iPad are made by Sony, Apple handles the design of the cameras itself. The listings may hint at an Apple decision to take more of the process in-house, as it has done with its mobile chip design, or suggest an expansion of future camera abilities -- perhaps including gesture control or facial-recognition-dependent features. Apple acquired Primesense, the original makers of the Xbox Kinect technology, last year.
The listings were first spotted by AppleInsider, which has also speculated that Apple may be considering adding a camera (and gesture support) to its Apple TV set-top box or a future Apple-branded TV product. Rumors of Apple TV gaining support for FaceTime have floated around for years, and the possibility would fit in with claims that Apple will completely revamp the existing Apple TV in its next revision, which could be seen at this year's Worldwide Developer's Conference.
Most of the job listings are based in Cupertino, though some positions more concerned with manufacturing and vendor relations are scattered around various regions, including Japan, China and Israel. The position postings call for help with sensor design, camera module integration, imaging software, lens design, firmware and related mechanical engineering among other job opportunities.
Apple's combination of custom-designed hardware (such as the five-element lens or larger sensor pixels) and image-processing software has kept its mobile cameras by far the most popular in the world, even as Android devices sporting cameras up to 41 megapixels flood the market. The company routinely wins head-to-head competitions with its primary rivals in terms of photography, and Apple's devotion to camera quality has even coined the term "iPhoneography" as a subject of exhibits, competitions and even interest from pro photographers. The company was also among the first to bring digital photography to mass markets, in a collaboration with Kodak in the early 90s.