Apple has been granted a patent for a multi-point touch focus system designed to enhance the photographic capabilities of its mobile devices.

Apple is looking at ways to further improve the camera functionality of its mobile devices with news that the tech giant has been granted a patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office for a multi-point touch focus system using a dedicated image processor.

As noted in an Apple Insider report, the patent, which was awarded on Thursday, explains how the system would allow a user to select via a devices touchscreen two areas of interest in an image prior to taking a photo. The image processor would then work to ensure both areas are rendered in focus by selecting the best exposure, aperture and focal settings for the pre-selected areas. Automatic sharpening would also be applied to the image.

The patent says that when one selected area is much closer to the lens than the other, the system will select what Apple describes as a compromise focal point to ensure that the chosen areas of interest are as much in focus as the conditions of the scene permit. If the user deems one of the pre-selected areas to be of more importance focus-wise, they can indicate this by pinching that area on the touchscreen. The focusing technology will then work to give that area priority.

Another feature of the system outlined in the patent is motion tracking of the pre-selected areas. Exposure control of the pre-selected areas, which could be bathed in differing strengths of light, would also be possible.

Theres no indication as to whether any of these features will turn up on Apples next iPhone, which is expected to be unveiled later this year. However, the patent serves as a reminder of the importance the Cupertino company places on its mobile camera at a time when more and more people are discarding their dedicated compact devices in favor of their phone-based shooter.

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