iOS 11.3 Ships with Better Augmented Reality

Apple today announced the availability of iOS 11.3, with the latest edition of the mobile OS featuring improved augmented reality (AR), data/privacy notification improvements and even new Animoji.

AR, with the help of the 2016 debut of the wildly popular Pokémon GO game, has become one of the hottest areas of mobile development. Satya Nadella, CEO of archrival Microsoft, has even said it's one of the three prime areas of focus for the company (along with artificial intelligence and quantum computing), and Google is targeting it for Android with the ARCore SDK, which shipped last month.

Apple got in early on the AR action with the introduction its own ARKit last year, saying: "iOS 11 introduces ARKit, a new framework that allows you to easily create unparalleled augmented reality experiences for iPhone and iPad. By blending digital objects and information with the environment around you, ARKit takes apps beyond the screen, freeing them to interact with the real world in entirely new ways."

Today, the company announced additions to those new ways to interact with the real world via an iPhone or other iOS device.

[Click on image for larger view.] ARKit (source: Apple)

Those include the capability to help iOS coders deliver AR experiences that use vertical surfaces (adding walls and doors to the horizontal recognition capability for things like tables and chairs). Also, Apple said, it's better at mapping irregularly shaped surfaces.

"Using advanced computer vision techniques to find and recognize the position of 2D images such as signs, posters and artwork, ARKit can integrate these real world images into AR experiences such as filling a museum with interactive exhibits or bringing a movie poster to life," Apple said today. "The view of the real world through the camera now has 50 percent greater resolution and supports auto-focus for an even sharper perspective."

Other new features iOS developers might be interested in include:

  • Four all-new Animoji: lion, bear, dragon and skull.
  • Business Chat, for communicating with businesses directly via the Messages app.
  • Health Records, which helps patients of dozens of major health systems view their medical records from multiple sources from an iPhone.
  • Data and privacy features to help users better understand how their personal data might be put to use, including a new privacy icon that will appear with related information when Apple wants to access personal information for features such as secure services or personalization.
  • Improved functionality for showing the power remaining in an iPhone 6 or later, and for recommending users service their batteries.

Many more features focus on Apple Music, Apple News, Apple TV, HomeKit and more.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.