While hardcore Apple fans stayed up to see the livestream of their latest product reveal event, I was sleeping soundly. Knowing well that I would wake up refreshed and simple read about whatever fresh hell the company had cooked up a few hours later.
What I woke up to were three new iPhones and, well, not much else. It even seems like these particular iPhones are only incrementally better than the notchy iPhone X everyone was raving about last year. Or was it the year before?
Anyway, it’s hard to get excited about iPhone announcements and all I really cared about was finding out what the iPad Pro 3 was all about. Unfortunately the only product I personally cared about was nowhere to be seen. Luckily Apple dropped more than a few juicy details that relate to their AR efforts, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.
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Scream if You Want to Go Faster
The first bit of information that relates to AR has to do with performance. The new CPUs and GPUs in the trio of iPhones that were shown off are an average of 15% faster than their predecessors. Not a terribly huge jump, but modern AR is pretty resource intensive so any extra performance is welcome.
The real speed news however, comes in the form of iOS 12. We now know that iOS 12 will be available on the 17th of September. Although there are a whole bunch of new features in the OS, the main selling point is a significant improvement in performance.
Google Is Going In VR. Google has fully embraced the virtual reality experience and it is dedicating a lot of resources to it. In fact, Google Cardboard was once considered to be a side project for the company before it became a hit. Some people say that Google Maps' street view, which launched in 2007, was an early example of virtual reality. In recent years, Google hired a lot of people specifically for virtual reality and they are researching all aspects of it.
Apple says that products as far back as the iPad Air will show significant performance increases after upgrading. Apps will launch more quickly, software run more smoothly and hopefully optimizations will translate to better 3D app performance.
New Tools in the Kit
Of course, iOS 12 brings with it the second version of Apple’s ARKit. An API built from the ground up to provide next-generation AR to application developers. Google still has no answer to the original ARKit release. When ARKit 1.0 launched I said that it was one of the biggest technological leaps I’d seen. This was high-end AR that worked without any special equipment using just standard mobile sensor technology. Persistent augmented reality which is sure to eventually be the heart of a dedicated Apple headset. Although they will confirm or deny nothing about such rumours at this stage.
ARKit 2.0 comes with more accurate room measurement, AR multiplayer and a neat new open format for 3D AR objects. Augmented reality is being baked deeper and deeper into Apple’s products and we all should be pretty excited about that. It does beat a phone notch any day of the week.