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Hello, future! AR on the new iPhones

You might have seen the latest Apple Event on september 12th or you would have at least heard of it. They announced a new generation of Apple Watches, a new generation of Apple TV and most importantly, a new set of iPhones optimized for Augmented Reality. Needless to say, we were thrilled.

Not two, but three new iPhones! 

Ever since the iPhone 6 came out, we have been treated to two new iPhone models every year. This year this trend has been followed up with the announcement of the new generation iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. These new iPhones feature, as opposed to it’s predecessors, an all-glass design which enables wireless charging of the device without the use of special cases.

The new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus models also feature a new HD Retina display with True Tone technology which makes everything on your screen look amazing, under all lighting circumstances. And if that’s not enough, the new iPhone models also have a more advanced 12MP camera and an improved version of Portrait Mode, which let’s you take stunning portrait pictures with just your iPhone.

Just as we thought Apple had announced everything regarding the new iPhones, they come with yet another announcement: another iPhone. Yes, 10 years after the release of the very first iPhone, Apple announces another model during the Apple Event. The new iPhone X, or “iPhone Ten” as it’s pronounced is yet another revolutionary new phone added to the iPhone family.

(iPhone X and iPhone 8 and 8 Plus; the newest members of the iPhone family. Photo source: KPN)

The iPhone X has a new Super Retina OLED display that covers the entire front side of the phone. Yes, it’s all glass and all screen. Because of the screen covering the front side of the phone from one edge to the other, Apple had to think of new ways to operate the phone and also a new way to unlock it since the touch sensor had to make way for extra screen.
For unlocking the new iPhone X, Apple has come up with something they call Face ID. Face ID makes use of the new TrueDepth camera, located in the tiny little space on the front side of the phone which is not occupied by the screen. This camera makes a precise and detailed depth map of your face so you can unlock your spiffy new iPhone just by looking at it.
This new front-faced camera can not only be used to map your face, but also to create stunning selfies with the help of the new portrait mode functionalities and also to create and send animated emojis by tracking the movements in your face and mirroring them onto your favorite emojis (yes, also onto the chocolate soft-serve ice cream emoji).

It’s what’s inside that matters

Ok, so the new iPhones have a new exterior and some cool new features, but what about the interior? What’s inside the new phones?

Besides a cool new case, the next generation iPhones also have a brand-new chip. This new chip, named A11 Bionic, is said to be the most powerful and smartest chip ever in a smartphone.
This new chip has six cores, which consist of four efficiency cores and two performance cores that are said to be respectively 70% and 25% faster than those of it’s predecessor, the A10 Fusion. Tasks are intelligently directed between these cores and the CPU is even capable of harnessing all six cores simultaneously to give your phone a nice little boost.

(The new, customisable Control Center; one of the many new features iOS 11 has to offer. Photo source: Apple)

Next to the CPU, the new chip also features a GPU which is optimized for 3D gaming and Augmented Reality. Apple developed a special graphics software called Metal 2, which supports the Unreal Engine, that allows developers to create stunning 3D console-style games for iPhone. The new chip also allows for more fluid and realistic Augmented Reality experiences, along with the use of the new Apple ARKit, which is a new feature for the upcoming iOS 11 update.

Changing the world. Literally.

With the introduction of iOS 11 and the new iPhones also came an introduction to Augmented Reality. During the WWDC in June Apple announced the ARKit and it’s functionalities. They also showed some demos so we could get a feel for the way AR will work on iPhones and iPads. More stunning demos made by various developers followed suit.
During this week’s Apple Event, they showed more stunning examples of what AR will be like with the power of the new camera and the new A11 Bionic chip in the next generation of iPhones. And it looks mighty fine.

The first demo they showed was a clip from the game Warhammer 40K: freeblade by Pixel Toys. They showed how the game’s photo mode was used to place a character from the game into the real world. Seeing giant mechanical war machines fighting each other on a basketball court has never looked so great!

(Directive Games CEO Atli Mar showing a live match from their new game The Machines. Photo source: Apple/Venture Beat)

The second demo we saw was one from the Major League Baseball Advanced Media Team. They’ve enhanced their existing At Bat app to show real-time game stats and player information through AR on your screen as soon as you point it at your TV. The demo of Fifth Star Labs’ Sky Guide showed a similar style of app where you’re able to superimpose a map of the constellations on top of the sky around you while looking at the sky through you phone’s camera.
During the Apple Event they also showed a live demo of a new, competitive PvP AR game called The Machines, developed by Directive Games. In this game, you can battle your friends in an arena-style multiplayer game. You can do this either online with friends from over the world, or around the same table in the same room.

During this demo we could see the battlefield being projected onto an empty table on the stage. With the combination of the Apple ARKit and and the Metal 2 Graphics software with Unreal Engine support, the visuals look incredible and fluid, even when you’re moving in closer to the detailed map and start walking around it.

The game also uses spatial audio, to add yet another level of immersion to the game. The sounds you hear will be louder when you move closer into the action and will also be secluded whenever there is an actual object between you and the game.
Astonishing graphics, immersive sound and a whole new dimension through Augmented Reality? I’m a fan!

This article was written by our intern Claudia Tjia.

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