I often like to peruse Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) job listings to get a sense of what the company is working on. Not only can combing through these listings yield insights into new technologies that Apple is investing in, but it can also tell us what areas Apple already has competence in that the company wants to augment.
Here are three job listings from Apple's job boards that seem to provide this kind of insight.
Improved optical coatings
With the launch of the iPad Air 2, Apple introduced a new anti-reflective coating that dramatically reduced the reflectivity of the display on the device, enhancing the user experience, particularly in direct sunlight. Apple has seemingly used the same anti-reflective coating on its subsequent flagship iPad products, including the iPad Pro, but not on its lower-cost iPad or iPhone products.
Apple's work clearly isn't done in this area. The company's job board shows a listing posted on Aug. 14 in which the company seeks "an enthusiastic engineer to support display panel design and integration of Apple's phenomenal products by leading overall investigation on advanced display optical coatings."
I suspect Apple's focus on optical coatings in the near future will involve the following:
- Further reducing the reflectivity of the displays on its iPad line of tablets to enhance image quality.
- Developing a robust enough anti-reflective coating that can withstand the much rougher treatment the iPhone endures.
Longer-term, Apple is probably working on technologies and user experiences that I couldn't even begin to speculate on.
Lasers, lasers everywhere
Apple also put up a job listing for a "Semiconductor Laser Design Engineer" on Aug. 14. The listing says the successful applicant will have a slew of responsibilities. Here's the job summary:
As a key member of the Sensing Device team, you will be responsible for semiconductor laser design and working with suppliers to bring up new optoelectronic devices with good performance and yields, work with operations engineering on yield issues, [and] work with suppliers on process development to enable next generation sensing technologies.
Apple is expected to use an infrared laser as part of the 3D sensing solution that's believed to be one of the standout features in the upcoming OLED iPhone. This job listing leads me to believe that this year's iPhone will only have what will, in hindsight, look like a rudimentary 3D sensing solution compared with what Apple is cooking up for the years ahead.
Next-generation touch capabilities
On Aug. 11, Apple put up a job listing for an "HID Sensor Algorithm Engineer." HID is short for "human interface device."
The person who gets this job, Apple's listing says, will "be part of the engineering team creating next-generation touch interfaces for iPhone, Apple Watch, and more. The successful applicant will also "analyze [hardware] issues for user impact and potential mitigations, modify and tune current algorithms for new form factors and design, and implement new user facing features."
So if you thought Apple's future iPhone and Apple Watch models will have relatively static user interface designs, this listing should change your opinion.
I can't wait to see what Apple has in store for its customers.