Many of us have been using iPhones since the beginning, and its “hidden” or “secret” features are things we’ve know about for ages. But every once in a while, I learn something new about iOS. This time, it’s a feature that lets you instantly measure someone with just your iPhone’s camera.
This feature isn’t new, but it is only available on a select group of iPhones, specifically “Pro” models. If you have an iPhone 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, 13 Pro, 13 Pro Max, 14 Pro, or 14 Pro Max, you have an instant people-measuring tool in your pocket. However, even if you have the most recent iPhone 14 or 14 Plus, you don’t. (Weird how a brand-new iPhone doesn’t have a feature the two-year-old iPhone 12 Pro does.)
How LiDAR works on iPhones
Even if Apple wanted to add this feature to non-Pro iPhones, it likely couldn’t — the measure feature is hardware-based, relying on the LiDAR sensor built-into the cameras of the Pro iPhones. If you have one, you’ve likely noticed this sensor as the seemingly redundant dot on the camera housing of your iPhone. This LiDAR sensor is a powerful tool for augmented reality: It allows your iPhone to map its surroundings by sending out pulses of light into the room. When those light pulses bounce off the room and hit the LiDAR sensor again, your iPhone measures how long the process took.
One of the usages for such a sensor is the ability to instantly measure a person, so long as the person is standing in front of the camera from head to toe. But you won’t find this option in the Camera app.
How to measure someone using your iPhone
To measure a friend with your iPhone, open the Measure app and frame your friend in Measure’s camera viewfinder, making sure their entire body is visible. Once queued up, Measure will determine their height, displaying a tally next to their head. You can then use Measure’s shutter button to take a photo of your subject and their estimated height.
Before you ask, yes, you can get the feature to work in a mirror. But, because it has you stand so far back, the results are not accurate. “I’m 3’10’’ in a mirror” will make sense to exactly zero people.