A new patent application from Apple describes an interesting, alternative approach to displaying live view images from dual-camera-equipped smartphones when you're trying to frame a shot.

On Apple's current dual-camera phones—the iPhones 7 Plus, 8 Plus and X—the image data from both sensors is merged computationally to provide a seamless zoom experience. The end user can't tell if they're looking at a live-view image captured by the main camera, by the tele-camera, or a combination of both. The concept is the same for tele-camera phones from most other manufacturers.

The system described in the patent works differently. It shows the images from both cameras simultaneously, side-by-side. This would allow users to compare the field-of-view of both lenses, and pick the one they prefer.

According to the patent, the dual-view mode would allow for independent zooming and panning of each camera view. In theory, the photographer could take two photos simultaneously, each with different zoom factor and framing. The system would work in the same way in video mode, letting the shooter focus on a particular detail of a scene while simultaneously recording the wider context.

As usual, there is no way of knowing if this idea will ever make it into a production device, especially since the current way of dealing with dual-camera live images is arguably easier and clearer to most users. But as a user-selectable alternative mode, the system described in the patent application actually makes a lot of sense.

Let us know what you think of this idea in the comments.