ARKit enables iPhones and iPads running iOS 11 to superimpose computer-generated graphics over the real world, allowing developers to take their apps beyond the screen and into the user’s environment.
By using the built-in camera, processors, and motion sensors found in iOS devices, virtual content appears on top of real-world scenes, and users don’t need any special equipment to enjoy them because ARKit does the heavy lifting.
One developer who spoke to Motherboard said Apple had improved upon existing AR solutions like Hololens and Google Tango by making the ARKit framework elegant and simple to use.
“The most impressive aspect of ARKit is that it tends to just work,” said Cody Brown, founder of virtual reality production studio IRL, in an online interview with Motherboard. “Other AR software often requires some sort of physical tracking mechanism (like a QR code), which inevitably becomes a major piece of friction if you are trying to get anyone to use this stuff.
“Another incredible aspect of ARKit is how it handles lighting adjustments in real time, continued Brown. “I can only imagine the math and magic underneath this tech to make it work.”
Impressed with how well ARKit maps objects to your environment. And easy to get started! pic.twitter.com/0am5dXlXui
— Kyle Russell (@kylebrussell) June 6, 2017
Several other ARKit developer demos have since appeared online, including a virtual “iPhone 8”, roving StarWars character BB-8, dog-stalking zombies, office floor naval battles, dancing Candy rock stars, and more.
Apple has invested heavily in augmented reality in recent years, making several VR/AR company acquisitions including PrimeSense, FaceShift, and Metaio. Apple’s much-anticipated “iPhone 8”, which is expected to be announced in September, is rumored to have 3D sensing capabilities, with augmented reality being one possible use for the technology.
ARKit will come to compatible devices as part of iOS 11, which Apple is set to release in the fall.