Apple has used the last two WWDCs as opportunities to show off its latest and greatest augmented reality innovations, the ARKit and ARKit 2.0 software development kits for iOS, along with annual hands-on demos. This year, it’s unsurprisingly showing off new augmented reality initiatives including ARKit 3, RealityKit, and Reality Composer, a collection of tools to make AR development easier.
ARKit 3 adds support for two major features: automatic real-time occlusion of people viewed by the host device’s camera, and real-time motion capture with the camera. Face tracking now supports up to three people at a time when viewed by the front-facing TrueDepth cameras on iPhone X/XR/XS devices and iPad Pros, and developers can simultaneously access both face and world tracking on the front and back cameras at once. Live collaborative sessions are supported between multiple people, using a shared world map.
RealityKit is a high-level framework to enable developers to easily blend virtual objects with real world environments, automatically scaled to perform properly on multiple Apple devices, and handle the networking demands of shared AR experiences. It supports photorealistic rendering, new environmental and camera effects, and additional animation, physics, and audio effects. It natively integrates with ARKit, and has a Swift API.
Reality Composer lets developers build interactive scenes with full AR support, and includes hundreds of virtual objects, with the ability to import and customize USDZ files. Virtual objects within scenes can be animated and made responsive to taps, proximity, and other triggers. Developers will be able to run Reality Composer both in XCode and as an iOS app.
Additionally, Mojang representatives came up on stage to demonstrate Minecraft Earth, an AR-augmented version of Minecraft that looks much like HoloLens demonstrations Microsoft offered several years ago. It’s effectively Minecraft on a surface of your choice, such as a large table, with the ability to interact somewhat with people. Minecraft Earth is apparently coming this summer, which would be ahead of the expected release date for ARKit 3, RealityKit, and Reality Composer.