Apple Inc. highlighted improvements to its augmented-reality software, a key foundation for iPhones, iPads and future devices.
On stage at Apple’s annual developer conference on Monday, executive Craig Federighi showcased ARKit 2 capabilities, including a mode called Persistence that lets users drop a virtual object in an environment and then return to it later in that specific place. Another feature, Shared Experiences, allows multiple users to play a single augmented-reality game together. In a demonstration, the company showed a Lego game and displayed how two iPhone users could play at the same time from different locations.
Apple also announced an augmented-reality file format and standard that it hopes will push AR capabilities to more applications. The technology overlays 3-D images on people’s view of the real world. A demo showed how news publishers can integrate AR into stories and web developers can add it to their websites. Adobe Systems Inc. came on stage and announced AR integration is coming to its iPhone apps.
Apple also introduced a new app called Measure for iOS devices that lets people virtually measure distances and detect shapes in the real world. It marks the first Apple-designed standalone AR app for consumers.
Apple first indicated its interest in AR a couple of years ago, and its offerings thus far have focused on software that uses the cameras on its iPhones and other existing devices. The company is working on an AR headset for release as early as 2020, which would benefit from this new technology.
Apple isn’t the only major player delving into AR. Last year, Google launched similar AR software called ARCore for Android devices. Facebook has also shown interest in AR, while Amazon.com Inc. is also building an AR headset, Bloomberg News reported earlier this year.