After Apple’s announcement of their new AR platform arKit at WWDC last week we were super excited to get our hands on the kit and start seeing how it compares to its competitors such as Google’s Tango and Microsoft's Hololens.
Thoughts on Tracking
As Apple has a rep for delivering well-made products, we went in with high expectations and we weren’t disappointed. From a Tracking point of view, it’s extremely solid. We were able to place an object in one room then go for a walk and come back to it pretty much sitting in the same place we left it and once it recognised that area again it snapped the object even closer to its original point.
This type of tracking we have seen with the likes of Microsoft's Hololens and Google's Tango devices but both of those are using depth sensors to achieve high fidelity tracking. Which makes arKits tracking even more impressive as its only using a single camera to accomplish this.
The only downside at the moment is that it seems to only track flat horizontal surfaces. This means you will struggle to place a Virtual 100” TV directly on your wall in AR but TV is boring anyway! So this is where the likes of Hololens and Tango devices currently have the advantage, but I’m sure as this platform grows you will see these features added in at a later date.
How do I get started?
From a development point of view, we were really pleased when it was announced that arKit would work with Unity3D. As lovers of the Engine, we knew it would be a fairly smooth process to get something quickly up and running and we weren’t wrong… well sorta. As with all new things it requires specific tools. As we have been away from Apple development for awhile there was a lot of updating and waiting around for all the software to install but it wasn’t too bad in the end!
In a separate post we will go into more detail about how to get up and running with arKit and Unity but for now here is a quick breakdown of things you need to know to help you get going:
Hands on hardware
The arKit currently only works with A9 processors or above this means the current list of compatible devices with arKit are:
iPhone 6s Plus
iPhone 7 Plus
Get yourself updated!
arKit requires Sierra OS, Xcode 9 beta, Unity3D 5.6.1b and the arKit plugin. You can get more information from the Unity forum here.
Be aN Apple Developer
Xcode 9 beta requires you to sign up to the Apple Developer Program to get you hand on it. This is will cost you £79 pa, there was a link that Apple release to download it for free but they may have expired. It’s still worth having a quick Google though!
We had some fun testing out this new AR platform and we're overall very impressed with its tracking capabilities and the ease of getting everything up and running.
This is a great step forward towards a more commercially adoptable AR solution that consumers can use without the need of special hardware. We know there are some great things to come in AR and Apple’s new platform is going to aid that even further.
Excited by the prospect of AR for Apple? Don't forget to get involved and leave you comments below!
Thanks for reading!