It doesn't feel like too long ago when Apple CEO Tim Cook mused about exploring the potential of augmented reality. Not long before, Pokémon Go dominated everyone's phones for a summer, as the world swiped upwards towards digital monsters everywhere, from our street sidewalks and convenience store aisles. At this morning's Apple keynote during the Worldwide Developer's Conference, the future of AR on Apple devices just got a little bit more dynamic.
ARKit is a new tool launching across iOS. The program will allow for "fast and stable motion tracking," where objects will interact with and look as if they are actually being placed in reality—in lieu of its current state, where it just looks like things are hovering over it. ARKit's functionality will carry across iOS into games, apps, and more. Even familiar things—*coughs* Pokémon Go—will look drastically better with the new tool.
"The Pokémon is so real, he's right there on the ground," said Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering, during a demo at the keynote. The Pikachu on screen looked different than we've seen Pikachu before. Pikachu has shadows, was dynamically embedded in the environment. To the naked eye, it almost looked like Pikachu was right there.
We're using ARKit to bring GNOG into the real world! The game will support AR features when it launches on iOS later this year. pic.twitter.com/vjAeFb8Vrk— KO_OP (@KOOPMode) June 5, 2017
Wingnut AR, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson's new AR studio, also demoed a new tabletop experience during the keynote. The Unreal Engine 4-powered game showed a bustling virtual town, before airships swooped down to bomb it. The demo is said to be released as a fully-fledged game later this year. After the ARKit demo wrapped up, developers KO_OP announced on Twitter that their upcoming iOS port of GNOG, a puzzle game released earlier this year, will be utilizing ARKit's unique AR functionality, bringing its hypercolorful world to real-life spaces everywhere.
Last year, Google Tango grabbed hold of a select few phones with its advanced AR functionality. The hardware was able to host a variety of unique, advanced AR experiences by mapping out environments, such as Funomena (and designer Keita Takahashi)'s imaginative app Woorld. Woorld brought the colorful, childlike toybox of Takahashi's imagination into the homes of Tango players. It made even bathrooms look pleasant. With Apple's quest into the land of intricate AR, it's not out of the ordinary to wonder if previously Tango-exclusive apps and games like Woorld will eventually make their way over to the much vaster world of iOS.