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This article was published on January 30, 2018

Apple’s ARKit update in iOS 11.3 is next level good

Apple’s ARKit update in iOS 11.3 is next level good
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

After dropping the first iOS 11.3 beta last week, Apple developers wasted little time in getting to work on a preview of what we’ll see this spring during the public release.

For an iOS update that features four new Animoji, it almost feels strange talking about anything other than karaoke with Apple’s new lion, bear, skull, or dragon lenses. But even with four new creatures to love, it’s the release of AIKit 1.5 that’s stealing the show.

The highlight of the release is vertical surface detection. Unlike previous versions, developers can now map spaces vertically, meaning instead of placing Ikea furniture on the floor or a light fixture on the ceiling, they can now map interior walls or irregularly-shaped items.

For iOS users, this makes some already impressive apps far more useful, and opens the door to some exciting new ones. The ability to preview paint colors, wall art, and better map entire rooms is on the horizon, and developers are already flexing their muscle in delivering some pretty amazing experiences.

Ubicolor, for example, demonstrated (feature image) a few days ago that creating portals through your walls was now possible thanks to the new update. While not practical, it’s undeniably cool when you consider the implications for next gen augmented reality gaming.

Paired with creations like Lauri’s “Creature-z,” which also makes use of vertical surface detection, it’s hard not to get at least a little excited for the next generation of Pokémon Go-like games.

Here’s the technology in action, as demonstrated by Abound Labs founder, Tim Field. Here we see ARKit 1.5 mapping vertical and irregularly-shaped surfaced, previously an exercise in patience for anyone that somehow managed to hack together a solution.

And then there’s the brave new world of AR image recognition, a real-world scan of the objects around you that provides augmented pop-ups for more information, or to purchase items on Amazon, for example.

It’s impressive work, especially considering these developers just got their hands on the beta a week ago. I can only imagine what we’ll see when Apple releases iOS 11.3 to the public this spring.

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