Apple may be testing iPhone tech that’s 100 times faster than Wi-Fi

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iPhone data may soon hit warp speed.
iPhone data may soon hit warp speed.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The next iPhone you get may come with super-fast data speeds that are 100 times faster than Wi-Fi. Based on references found in iOS 9.1’s code, it appears that Apple is testing Li-Fi capabilities on the iPhone that use light pulses instead of radio waves to transmit data.

Hidden inside iOS 9’s system library cache file there’s a specific mention of “LifiCapability.” The reference was first spotted by 19 year-old developer Chase Fromm on Twitter:

AppleInsider also independently confirmed the “LifiCapability” reference in iOS 9.1 and newer versions. However, just because Apple might be experimenting with LiFi, it is still unlikely that it will be included on the iPhone 7.

Invented by Harald Haas, a researcher at Edinburgh University, LiFi could theoretically increase the iPhone’s throughput capacity to 224 gigabits per second. Those data speeds would be heavenly for goggling through all the 4K video steaming your eyeballs can handle.

The big problem though is LiFi isn’t commercially available yet. There are many companies working on making it happen in the future, but it’s not ready for an iPhone release this year. The reference could also have something to do with a 2013 Apple patent that uses the iPhone’s image sensor for “optical modulation” that sends data via light.

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  • JoeCool

    Does LiFi even work in the dark? What about in extremely bright sunlight? Will it work if you have a case on your phone? Will it work if your phone is in your pocket? I believe the answer to all of these questions is “No”… I can’t see any real practical reason for using LiFi on a mobile device. Maybe to mass flash data to the devices during production, but that’s about it, which is probably what they are going to use it for. LiFi is by no means a replacement for WiFi…. Keep in mind, LiFi uses visible light spectrum, not infrared. Or LiFi could be another means for doing something similar to existing beacon technology.

    • fodfaposj

      These same questions were asked about WiFi. The widely believed answer to all of those questions were “no.”

  • Sounds great, but doesn’t this just mean that you will get whatever speed you’re capable of getting from your internet provider?

  • bdkennedy11

    I just don’t see this happening unless it’s to transfer files quickly from one phone to another. In order for LiFi to work you have to be in direct line of sight of the light beam. It doesn’t work through walls or around corners.

  • Richard Liu

    LiFi is still in the lab, struggling to get founding to let the team survive; so don’t expect to see any in market for the next few years, if they ever make it working. That code you saw could probably just a list of software module stubs for possible future expansion. We coders called it “Enumerations”.