10 of the best ARKIT apps and games to try for IOS 11

Ap­ple’s aug­mented re­al­ity tech pow­ers a new wave of im­pres­sive ex­pe­ri­ences.

Macworld (USA) - - Contents - BY AN­DREW HAYWARD

Aug­mented re­al­ity apps have been around for some time now, but they’ve of­ten been clunky or rudi­men­tary. But Ap­ple is push­ing hard on an AR fu­ture with IOS 11, thanks to ARKIT. The tech al­lows de­vel­op­ers to cre­ate smarter, more re­spon­sive apps that tweak and en­hance your real world via the lens of your iphone or ipad screen.

And creators were ready and wait­ing. When IOS 11 dropped in Septem­ber, there were dozens of Arkit-ready apps avail­able, some of which built upon past AR ideas and oth­ers that de­buted new con­cepts. If you’re ea­ger to see what’s pos­si­ble, whether it’s with apps or games, we’ve picked out 10 of the most im­pres­sive ARKIT ex­pe­ri­ences so far.

1. SKY GUIDE AR ($3)

Star-find­ing apps have been IOS high­lights for years now, let­ting you use GPS to get the ap­prox­i­mate lo­ca­tion of stars and con­stel­la­tions in the night sky—but with aug­mented re­al­ity, now they can go a step fur­ther. We see that im­pres­sively with Sky Guide AR ( go.mac­world.com/skyg). You’ll still point your de­vice to­ward the heav­ens, but now the info is over­laid atop your real world sights.

When aim­ing to­ward the un­ob­structed sky, you’ll see the over­lay of stars and con­stel­la­tions right atop the sky, com­plet­ing the il­lu­sion that you’re look­ing at the real thing…even if it’s day­time. Of course, it’s more handy at night, as it’ll let you pin­point stars and sights with ease. Be sure to pack this tool for your next stargaz­ing trip.


Aug­mented re­al­ity can be ex­tremely use­ful for en­vi­sion­ing how some­thing would look in the real world, al­beit with­out the has­sle, ex­pense, and com­mit­ment of the phys­i­cal ob­ject. That’s def­i­nitely true with fur­ni­ture, and Housecraft ( go.

mac­world.com/hous) is a sur­pris­ingly fun—yes, fun!—early ARKIT app that lets you po­si­tion and ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent pieces within your liv­ing space.

Un­like the IKEA Place app ( go. mac­world.com/ikea), the fur­ni­ture here is generic: this isn’t a shop­ping app, and it’s just meant to get your mind mov­ing about what could work in your space. But it’s in­cred­i­bly in­tu­itive, the faux fur­ni­ture looks pretty sharp (but also fairly nat­u­ral against your own back­drop), and just for kicks, you can even toss in a tor­nado to kick things around when you’re done. Sure, why not?


Knock­ing down an elab­o­rate trail of in­tri­cately-placed domi­nos is one of life’s great plea­sures, but tak­ing the time to set them all up—while care­fully avoid­ing an early down­fall—can be a stress­ful, tir­ing ex­cur­sion. Luck­ily, this is one of those sce­nar­ios that aug­mented re­al­ity can solve, and Domino World lets ( go. mac­world.com/domi) you build with ease be­fore top­pling your cre­ation.

It’s as sim­ple as find­ing a flat sur­face, hold­ing down a but­ton, and then “draw­ing”

trails of domi­nos by mov­ing your de­vice. You can even add in lit­tle stairs and toys for amus­ing twists. True, with­out the risk and ef­fort of build­ing the real thing, the re­ward isn’t quite as sweet…but it’s still pretty en­ter­tain­ing, all the same.


It’s time to throw out your tape mea­sures, rulers, yard sticks, and lev­els. Why? Be­cause now there’s an app for all of that. AR Measurekit ( go.mac­world.com/arme) uses the power of ARKIT to mea­sure dis­tance, let­ting you fig­ure out the length or height of some­thing via the cam­era. You’ll tap to set a start­ing point and then point where you’d like to stop, and just like that, you’ve got a mea­sure­ment.

OK, so you might want to keep some of those tra­di­tional tools to con­firm any ul­tra-pre­cise dis­tances (and make sure the app is work­ing as it should), but for a ball­park mea­sure­ment, AR Measurekit seems to do the trick. The ruler tool is free, while tools to mea­sure tra­jec­tory, height, and an­gles re­quire a sin­gle $3 in-app pur­chase for the whole bun­dle of ad­di­tions.


Have you seen the Ap­ple demo that shows an enor­mous, re­al­is­tic-look­ing Tyran­nosaurus Rex dropped into the real world? Yeah, that’s Mon­ster Park—dino World ( go.mac­world.com/dino) in ac­tion, and in­deed, it’s one of the more com­pelling vis­ual ex­pe­ri­ences avail­able us­ing ARKIT tech right now.

There’s not a lot to it, ad­mit­tedly: you’ll start the scene, which puts the big T-rex in front of a por­tal to a pre­his­toric world, plus there’s a Pter­a­n­odon fly­ing about. You can prod the di­nosaurs a bit and step through the por­tal into the other en­vi­ron­ment, all while freely look­ing at the beasts from all an­gles, but that’s

about the ex­tent of it. Luck­ily, it looks so good that Mon­ster Park is per­fect for tak­ing fun gag pho­tos and videos, or for let­ting kids ex­plore a bit.


An­i­mated GIFS are all over the place, whether it’s on so­cial me­dia or in our mes­sages—and now they can phys­i­cally be all around you in Giphy World ( go. mac­world.com/giph). Well, dig­i­tally phys­i­cally, at least. Giphy World taps into the GIF repos­i­tory’s vast libraries of mov­ing images and lets you drop GIFS and themed Gif-scapes into the world around you us­ing your de­vice cam­era.

And they’ll stay in place as you move your iphone or ipad around, let­ting you con­coct elab­o­rate and quite likely obnoxious GIF col­lages in the aug­mented ver­sion of your space. Look, there’s noth­ing crit­i­cally im­por­tant about Giphy World, and it’s clearly just meant for a

laugh. But that’s fine: that’s what GIFS do best any­way.


The stan­dard ver­sion of Stack ( go. mac­world.com/stak) is a one-tap game that you’ll be tempted to play over and over again, and the new Stack AR ( go. mac­world.com/stvr) sim­ply shifts the ac­tion to your cof­fee ta­ble, desk, or wher­ever else you have a flat sur­face. As be­fore, the goal is to tap to place a mov­ing block atop your ever-grow­ing tower—and if you don’t time it per­fectly, the over­lap­ping edge gets cut off.

Over time, that gives you less and less space to place the new block, and even­tu­ally it’ll be game over. It’s a sim­ple, yet per­fectly-ex­e­cuted con­cept. AR doesn’t do any­thing tremen­dously spe­cial for the ex­pe­ri­ence, but it’s cool to have the game in your liv­ing space, al­most like it’s a su­per-sized Jenga tower. The pop-up ads are ag­gres­sive, but $2 within kills them for­ever.


Us­ing AR apps might be mostly cen­tered on star­ing at your phone or tablet screen, but AR Run­ner ( go.mac­world.com/arru) is the rare ex­cep­tion—well, sort of. You’ll still keep your eyes on your screen, since that’s where the re­al­ity gets aug­mented, but this fit­ness ex­pe­ri­ence is all about get­ting up and mov­ing in a hurry.

AR Run­ner cre­ates a lit­tle race path to run in your space, set­ting up vir­tual gates in the world for you to pass through, and then it chal­lenges you to run the best time you can. Races comes in dif­fer­ent sizes and shapes, plus you can com­pare times on the on­line leader­boards and even run lo­cal races with pals. It’s short, fast, ac­tive fun, and an in­ven­tive use of ARKIT.

9. HU­MAN ANATOMY AT­LAS 2018 ($1)

You might not want to see a real dead body up close, or han­dle real, ex­ca­vated body parts—but with aug­mented re­al­ity, you can get all the knowl­edge with­out any of the mess or icky feel­ings. Hu­man Anatomy At­las 2018 ( go.mac­world.com/ huaa) lets you pull up an im­pres­sively re­al­is­tic 3D model of a ca­daver, eye­ball, or other body part, drop it on a sur­face, and then ex­am­ine it from all an­gles.

That’s per­fect for get­ting an in­side look at a part of the hu­man body and un­der­stand­ing its com­po­nents and di­men­sions. The app it­self is a bit con­fus­ing to nav­i­gate, how­ever, and only some of the el­e­ments have AR ex­pe­ri­ences. That might throw you off at first, but once you’re star­ing into the ab­domen of a fake-real corpse, surely all frus­tra­tions will be for­given.


Eric Carle’s iconic sto­ry­book The Very Hun­gry Cater­pil­lar has tran­scended gen­er­a­tions, so both you and your young ones might get a real kick out of My Very Hun­gry Cater­pil­lar AR ( go.mac­world.com/mvhc). It turns the clas­sic sto­ry­book into a com­pact aug­mented re­al­ity play­ground, let­ting you feed the bug and have it play around with toys un­til it ul­ti­mately grows and trans­forms into a but­ter­fly.

It’s not an­other telling of the clas­sic story, un­for­tu­nately, and there isn’t a lot of depth to the ex­pe­ri­ence. How­ever, it looks re­ally slick, es­pe­cially if you play out­side in the grass or an­other nat­u­ral back­drop, and it’s ex­tremely easy to un­der­stand and in­ter­act with. This one’s per­fect for the lit­tle ones to play around with. ■

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