Apple tape measure app: always have a ruler and spirit level with you

The tape measure app on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is a practical aid for measuring certain distances using augmented reality (AR) and, if necessary, the LiDAR scanner of the camera system. In addition to individual lines and edges of objects, several measurements can be displayed at once and the area of ​​rectangles can even be calculated automatically. Furthermore, the App via a spirit level function. This allows Apple's tape measure app to be used to determine the slope of surfaces. The spirit level works on all three axes as well as in portrait and landscape format. Details on the usage and accuracy of the software can be found here.

Apple's Tape Measure app uses the camera and AR on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch to help measure objects.
Apple's Tape Measure app uses the camera and AR on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch to help measure objects.

Prerequisite: device models and their hardware

Older iPhones and iPad generations cannot use the tape measure app. However, in a well-lit environment, you can use the following devices to use AR technology to measure: iPhone 6s or later, iPhone SE (1st gen) and later, iPad (5th gen) and later, iPad Pro (all models ) and iPod touch (7th gen). Starting with these device versions, you can determine the height, length and width of objects, have rectangular areas calculated automatically and save photos of the measurements.

Newer devices, especially the Pro models with a LiDAR scanner, offer even more options. Because the LiDAR scanner also measures the environment in addition to the interaction of camera, gyroscope and acceleration sensors. From the iPad Pro 12,9 inch (4th gen), the iPad Pro 11 inch (2nd gen) and the iPhone 12 Pro (Max) the resulting advantages can be used: auxiliary lines simplify the measurement, the course of the Measurements can be saved and it is possible to measure a person's height.

Ruler feature of the Tape Measure app

To use the functions described above, simply call up the app labeled "Tape Measure" on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Its icon shows two scales (top for inches, bottom for centimeters) and between them a dotted measuring line in yellow. The software is part of the pre-installed utilities on the device. If you removed it, you can reinstall it from the App Store.

The tape measure function is selected by default in the app. You can also activate this on the corresponding symbol at the bottom left. Measurements are made by adding points in the camera image shown on the display and then measuring from one to the next. Rectangles are recognized automatically and marked by tapping. The area is also calculated. 

Since the rectangle was detected when the iPhone was held at an angle in front of the MacBook keyboard, it is displayed offset when viewed from above. The dimensions and the area are estimates.
Since the rectangle was detected when the iPhone was held at an angle in front of the MacBook keyboard, it is displayed offset when viewed from above. The dimensions and the area are estimates.

Spirit Level feature of the Tape Measure app

The spirit level function of the tape measure app on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad can be used in both portrait and landscape format. In addition, a level is measured when the device is placed on it. It is thus possible to measure flat or inclined surfaces and edges on all three axes.

The auxiliary lines and the degree display indicate the alignment of the iPhone on the x and y axes. The height of the black part of the image shows the inclination to the front or to the back. If 0° is displayed and the coloring changes to green, then everything is straight.
The auxiliary lines and the degree display indicate the alignment of the iPhone on the x and y axes. The height of the black part of the image shows the inclination to the front or to the back. If 0° is displayed and the coloring changes to green, then everything is straight.

When using portrait and landscape mode, guides are displayed and the screen is partially colored so that the alignment on the x and y axes (edge ​​of the coloring) and the tilt on the z axis (height of the coloring) can be estimated. Placed on surfaces, the display shows two circles and the corresponding degrees. If the circles are on top of each other, then the surface is flat and the inclination is 0°.

If the display shows this picture when you put the iPhone down, then you should adjust the height of the tabletop at one or two corners. If the circles are on top of each other and the picture turns green, then the area under the device is flat.
If the display shows this picture when you put the iPhone down, then you should adjust the height of the tabletop at one or two corners. If the circles are on top of each other and the picture turns green, then the area under the device is flat.

Can you trust the measurements?

With regard to the spirit level, I have had good experiences with the tape measure app; I use it occasionally with an Apple iPhone 12 Pro. Across different iOS versions and also after the latest updates of iOS 16 did it work fine. I only use the ruler to determine approximate measurements. I wouldn't use it to measure a room and buy furniture or a fitted kitchen based on that. Other custom-made products should also be examined with a more precise measuring device as a precaution. Apple itself writes as a reference to the function of its mobile devices: "The dimensions are estimates".

Sources: 1, 2

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