Apple May Use Ambient Light Sensor to Display Shadows Based 3D UI Elements in Future Version of iOS

Apple’s really fond of bringing real world metaphors to its software interfaces. Notes, Game Center, iBooks and the newly introduced Podcasts app are all examples of this.

But off late, it has also demonstrated a great level of attention for detail while implementing these interfaces. The shining metal volume slider in the iOS 6 Music app is perhaps the best example of how the company is using sensors like the gyroscope and the accelerometer to travel the extra mile in order to deliver an extra real interface.

According to BuzzFeed’s Benjamin Jackson, these extra real interfaces are just the beginning. Based on a conversation he had with an Apple employee at WWDC, he writes:

One Apple employee (who I can’t name as the company does not allow employees to speak on the record without approval from media relations) said that in the future, your phone will show drop shadows based on the actual position of the light in the room, as detected by the phone’s ambient sensor — and everything in the UI will be rendered in 3D on the fly.

That’s an insanely deep level of attention to detail, characteristic to Apple.

Apple has in fact even filed a patent for adjusting 3D interfaces in response to inputs like orientation and movement.

But sniffing data off all those sensors would of course come at a cost — battery life. And with the rumored inclusion of 4G LTE in the next iPhone, unless Apple has a beast of a battery in store for the new iPhone, this will heavily drain precious battery juice.

Image credit: iDownloadBlog

There’s also no guarantee that the feature would actually make it into public releases, for all we know this might just be an experiment inside Apple.

This also raises the question of where should Apple draw the line in borrowing real world metaphors while designing digital interfaces. How far is too much?

Such tiny details are obviously a delight to play around with and great to show your friends, but would you really want it on your devices?