According to sources briefed on new specifications that Apple shared with vendors in its Made for iOS (MFi) licensing program, the latest iPhone 11 models could soon support new kinds of third-party strobe and flash accessories that sync with the iPhone’s camera shutter button.
As noted by 9to5Mac‘s Jordan Kahn, the specifications could allow for new types of third-party strobe accessories that synchronize with the iPhone’s integrated flash, such as an MFi trigger or battery case with a built-in flash that connects over Lightning.
The new specs will allow an accessory’s strobe or lighting component to sync with the device’s integrated flash and also relay the strobe sync signal wirelessly to additional accessories. In theory, the Lightning connection could also allow accessories to simultaneously draw or provide power over Lightning as is the case with other MFi accessories like battery cases, game controllers and headsets.
Current Bluetooth accessories like the Profoto C1 lights are managed via a dedicated app while others, such as the Lume Cube, rely on a dedicated hardware sensor to trigger a flash when it detects the iPhone’s LED flash firing. However, none of them are MFi-compliant and each resorts to different tricks to make possible iPhone-compatible off camera flash.
That’s precisely what Apple is attempting to fix with the new specs so MFi manufacturers could create new strobe and flash accessories without resorting to such workarounds. As the publication notes, the goal is to allow accessories to synchronize with the iPhone’s default camera shutter button or work more easily with third-party camera apps.
Unrelatedly, Apple’s Smart Battery Case for the iPhone 11 series has a dedicated Camera button (here’s how it works) which launches the stock Camera app even when the phone is locked (a quick press takes a photo while a longer press captures QuickTake video).