Potentially bad (or good) news for the existing AR startups.
An Apple patent application published this week hints at plans to make augmented reality a core feature of the iOS software, tied into its native mapping capabilities.
Patently Apple has the story and illustrations, which indicate that iOS AR will involve pointing an iPhone at the surrounding area and then overlaying data and content onto the live camera feed - exactly the kind of technology currently being used by AR apps like Layar, Wikitude and Junaio.
Apple's patent also points to potential usage of this technology for mapping and navigation, displaying directions and points of interest on the screen as it points at the real world.
The patent could be seen as really bad news for those augmented reality startups, if Apple decides to build AR into the iOS software. However, an alternative view would be that it would be good news: it would raise awareness of augmented reality hugely, and create a much bigger audience for any advanced AR apps and services provided by those startups.