Apple tests Li-Fi networking for future mobile devices: report

Hints within iOS firmware suggest tests are already underway to make future iPhones compatible with the next-generation technology.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

An examination of iOS 9's firmware and source code has revealed Apple may be experimenting with ways to make future iPhones compatible with Li-Fi technology.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based firm's mobile operating system software, beginning with iOS 9.1, appears to contain references to Li-Fi, a next-generation networking protocol which may end up replacing our widely-used Wi-Fi protocols in the future.

As reported by Apple Insider, a recent dive into source code belonging to the mobile device source code reveals a library cache file referencing "LiFiCapability," alongside other code-related hints to the networking protocol.

In a message posted to Twitter, user kyofujibaya noticed that Li-Fi testing may already be "imminent," due to hints found within the iOS 9.1 firmware.


The publication independently verified the findings.

Li-Fi acts on the principle of using pulses of light to transmit data. This transmission, often sent by light emitting diodes (LEDs) is then converted to an electrical signal. Researchers working on the technology claim Li-Fi will one day enable faster, more stable Internet connections, and could work alongside Wi-Fi, 4G and LTE to compensate for networks overloaded by data demand.

As Apple Insider points out, Apple filed a patent in 2013 which describes a method of "optical modulation using an image sensor," which hints that Apple may have been working on ways to utilize light to transmit data for at least the past few years.

Hoping for ultra-fast Li-Fi networking protocols to be installed in the next round of flagship iPhones Apple offers us is likely to end up a dashed dream, as the technology is still within experimental stages and is not ready for commercial use yet.

However, if research into Li-Fi continues, we may end up seeing more than the iPhone adopt the new standard for the quicker transfer of information between devices.

ZDNet has reached out to Apple and will update if we hear back.

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