Since the initial announcement at WWDC 2017, Apple’s ARKit has got the developer world excited. ARKit provides a way for developers to easily implement high-quality augmented reality experiences in their app with little knowhow, and has paved the way for an AR revolution in iOS 11, and it's set to get even better in iOS 12.
ARKit is available for the iPhone 6s or later, the iPad Pro range and the latest 9.7in iPad running iOS 11 or later, bringing the functionality to millions of users around the world. Those using an iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus or iPhone 8 will see the best performance, due to hardware enhancements in the rear camera module.
Whether it’s new AR apps or AR elements being worked into existing apps, there’s a range of AR content available for iPhone and iPad. Here, we list a few of our favourite AR apps for iOS 11 available to download right now, and one to look forward to with the launch of iOS 12.
MeasureKit is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a way to measure almost anything in augmented reality.
It’s not just a one trick pony either: as well as offering a basic ruler for measurements, there’s a number of additional modes for everything from measuring the height of people to measuring angles and checking if a surface is level. It’s incredibly accurate, and is a great way to show friends the potential of AR.
ARise is a cool new game built from the ground up for augmented reality – and it’s amazing. Think of ARise as the augmented reality equivalent of the hugely popular perspective-puzzler Monument Valley, as you guide a mini centurion around winding paths and overcome gaps by changing your perspective.
It requires you to physically move around and change the camera angle to find the correct route. There are only three ‘episodes’ available at the moment, but the developer has promised more are in the works and will be released via free updates in the coming months.
For those looking to redecorate the home or office, Houzz (and specifically, the new View in My Room 3D Tool) is a valuable app to use. Houzz is used to plan redecoration in your home, and offers a range of over 500,000 pieces of furniture and décor ready to be previewed in augmented reality.
You can design your room’s layout by positioning things like beds, wardrobes, sofas and pillows onto real surfaces to get an idea about both look and available space. Once you’re happy with the design, you can order over 9 million products via the app itself. It’s the future of shopping, and makes redecorating a breeze.
The Gruffalo Spotter
This neat little app lets your kids spot the Gruffalo and friends at specific forest locations thanks to a partnership with the English Forestry Commission. So yes, it's only available in the UK.
Check if there is a location near you here.
The app is based around following animal footprints which lead to some cool AR interaction with characters from the famous books. Will keep the kids even more entertained on a nice outdoor jaunt.
If you like the sound of Houzz, you may also be a fan of the newly released IKEA Place. It provides 3D models of a catalogue of furniture available from the Swedish retailer, ready to be dropped into your real environment via augmented reality.
It allows you to preview the furniture both in terms of size and style before purchasing it. If nothing else, it encourages people to experiment with the design of their homes without having to splash out on buying everything – initially, anyway.
It’s available in the US at the time of writing, but we imagine it’ll only be a matter of time before it’s made available for UK users.
A weather app might be the last thing you’d imagine would take advantage of augmented reality, but that’s what has happened in the charming (and slightly abusive) Carrot Weather.
It doesn’t really do anything not already available in the app, but it provides a cool AR user interface and gives users another reason to part with £3.99 to buy it.
Puzzle platformer Splitter Critters tasks you with leading Fez-like characters back home by splitting and re-arranging the alien world to provide walk-able pathways. While it’s a cool game by itself, the game recently received an update that provides a bunch of new levels that can be played in augmented reality.
In AR, you’ll see a white box appear – simply get close and swipe on-screen to make the necessary cuts to get your characters back home. It’s a limited update, but it’s still a fun game to play.
If you’ve seen Google’s Tilt Brush on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, you’ll love World Brush for iOS. It’s a similar concept to the hugely popular VR game, where users can draw 3D shapes and design in the real world. You can create vast designs that you can walk in/around for a different perspective, but that’s not the coolest part.
The coolest part of World Brush is that the drawings stay at that location forever (unless deleted) and can be viewed by other World Brush users. It brings a whole new level to graffiti in public places if nothing else!
Admittedly, Stack AR isn’t going to revolutionise augmented reality games on iOS, but it’s a good way to show your friends how cool AR can be. It’s a basic game that allows you to stack blocks in front of you with the aim of creating the tallest tower possible. There isn’t much else to it, but it should be good for those new to the world of augmented reality.
While third-party measuring apps are nothing new, Apple announced at WWDC 2018 that it would be bringing an official Measure app to iPhones and iPads with the introduction of iOS 12. It works much in the same way as other measurement apps in our roundup, providing length, width and surface area measurements with minimal effort.
While it's not as precise as a tape measure or a ruler, it's a handy tool that'll let you get rough measurements on-the-fly. If you can't wait for the full release later this year, you can install the iOS 12 beta right now.