Apple has finally entered what many believe to be the next big wave of computing: augmented reality.
At its annual conference for developers on Monday, Apple unveiled new augmented reality (AR) software that can display virtual objects onto the real world.
The software, dubbed ARKit, will let apps like Pokémon Go place virtual characters onto physical objects through the iPhone’s camera. Instead of merely showing a Pokémon over the real world like a moving sticker, ARKit will make the creature look as though it’s actually sitting on the ground in front of you.
Apple also demoed an upcoming app called Wingnut AR, which will let you place miniature, virtual worlds on surfaces like a coffee table.
The goal is to make the iPhone “the largest AR platform in the world,” according to Apple software chief Craig Federighi.
The biggest companies in tech, from Facebook to Microsoft to Google, are all working on AR technology. Startups like Magic Leap are working on ambitious eyewear that can overlay virtual objects, like directions or video games, onto the real world. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that AR will eventually be incorporated into subtle eyeglasses or even contacts.
Apple is also rumoured to be working on its own AR headset, but the company has yet to announce any hardware details.
Total revenue for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is expected to increase from $US5.2 billion in 2016 to over $US162 billion in 2020, according to the IDC.