iPhone 12 Pro’s lidar feature: See it in action with this 3D-scanning app

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The iPhone 12 Pro’s depth-scanning lidar sensor looks ready to open up a lot of possibilities for 3D-scanning apps on phones. A new one designed for home scanning, called Canvas, uses lidar for added accuracy and detail. But the app will work with non-pro iPhones going back to the iPhone 8, too.

The approach taken by Canvas indicates how lidar could play out in iPhone 12 Pro apps. It can add more accuracy and detail to processes that are already possible through other methods on non-lidar-equipped phones and tablets.

Canvas, created by Boulder-based company Occipital, originally launched for the iPad Pro to take advantage of its lidar scanning earlier this year. When I saw a demo of its possibilities back then, I saw it as a sign of how Apple’s depth-sensing tech could be applied to home-improvement and measurement apps. The updated app takes scans that are clearer and crisper.

Since the lidar-equipped iPhones have debuted, a handful of optimized apps have emerged offering 3D scanning of objects, larger-scale space-scanning photography (called photogrammetry) and augmented reality that can blend meshed-out maps of spaces with virtual objects. But Occipital’s Canvas app sample scan on the iPhone 12 Pro, embedded below, looks sharper than 3D scanning apps I’ve played with so far.

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