Lytro in the iPhone, not so fast

The Lytro camera that allows you to focus well after the moment you press the shutter button on your digital camera might be one of the most exciting innovations to happen to the world of photography since the first digital camera in 1975, however, to say that it is going to be included in the next iPhone or iPhone after that is stuff of make believe and wishful thinking.

In an extract from an upcoming book by Fortune magazine's Adam Lashinsky, called Inside Apple, Lashinsky talks about how the CEO and inventor of Lytro met with Steve Jobs before his death to talk about the new technology:

"The company’s CEO, Ren Ng, a brilliant computer scientist with a PhD from Stanford, immediately called Jobs, who picked up the phone and quickly said, 'if you’re free this afternoon maybe we would could get together.' Ng, who is 32, hurried to Palo Alto, showed Jobs a demo of Lytro’s technology, discussed cameras and product design with him, and, at Jobs’s request, agreed to send him an email outlining three things he’d like Lytro to do with Apple."

That has immediately got the Apple blogs excited and desperate to write headlines along the lines of "Next Apple iPhone to get Lytro tech".

We don't deny that Steve Jobs met with Ren Ng before his death last year, but having played with an early prototype of the Lytro camera in San Francisco in 2011, just after the camera's launch, it is fair to say that the technology is far from ready to make it into something as mainstream as the iPhone let alone any smartphone based on what we've seen.

One day, yes; within the next 3 years, highly unlikely. Why? Frankly there are just too many hurdles to make it a reality right now.

The first is the size of the sensor and the lens needed to take the photographs in the first place. The Lytro camera, a rather strange rectangular shape, is smaller than your traditional compact. However, it isn't as small as a phone and it requires a large sensor shape and deep lens to garner all that information on fields of light. The shape and size just isn't smartphone form factor friendly. That's not to say it isn't possible in the future but, if they were that close to creating something for a phone, then why make the Lytro camera such an unusual shape?

Then there is the resolution of the photos themselves. Snap a picture with the Lytro and you get a 1.2-megapixel (1,080 x 1,080) snap and that is far below the current offering phone users are used to. That's a big drop in the quality stakes and one that many would unlikely want to opt for. The Lytro's pictures are fun but they certainly aren't up going to be up to scratch with the 8-megapixel offering in the current iPhone 4S.

Even after you've got over all the technical difficulties, there is the social issue. Currently you can only share and edit Lytro pictures with the company's own software and own editing app.

That means no uploading to Facebook, no uploading to Twitter, no uploading to anywhere unless you created the dedicated software to do it. Now that's not implausible, but can you really see that happening overnight with the support of companies like Instagram, Flickr, and others? Here at Pocket-lint we can't see it until Lytro starts to become a force in its own right and more people have had a chance to use the system and for it to prove its worth.

Finally there is Apple itself. One of the biggest reasons we don't believe Lytro will be on the iPhone 5 or iPhone 6 for that matter is the simple fact that Apple does not embrace new technologies.

Don't get us wrong, the iPhone is an amazing piece of kit, however nothing in the iPhone is new bleeding edge technology. There are faster processors, better cameras, better screens, better almost everything available on the market elsewhere and that's because the iPhone isn't about specs. It's about experience and it is about letting people enjoy the current tech in a great way rather than becoming a guinea pig for new, unproven technology.

Sadly Lytro, while amazing, is too new, is too untested, and ultimately too much of a pipedream at the moment.

Sorry Apple fans, waiting for Lytro to make it to the iPhone any time soon would be like waiting for scientists to create the unicorn.

- Lytro camera pictures and hands-on

7 days living with....the other computer (Apple Mac OS X)