What's new with ARKit in iOS 11.3

Among the many improvements headed to iOS 11.3, Apple is expanding the capabilities of ARKit for developers to do more. The new ARKit 1.5 update is the clear result of developer feedback, and these new features are going to help both your existing ARKit favorites and new ARKit apps really shine.

Here's what's new with ARKit in iOS 11.3!

ARKit can now "see" more things

The biggest part of the ARKit update by far is the ability to detect vertical and irregularly shaped surfaces. That's a complicated way of saying ARKit will now be able to tell when there's a wall nearby or a coffee cup on your kitchen table. It also means things like doorways and windows will be easier to detect, and round table edges will actually mean something to the apps you are using.

What does this mean for your favorite ARKit apps? For right now, it means developers who choose to support ARKit 1.5 will be able to offer a more complete experience. It means your AR creations won't walk through walls and possibly even be able to avoid real world objects on your table or floor. The big thing here is being able to "see" more of the space you want to play it, as that gives developers a lot more flexibility when it comes to making AR seem more realistic.

'Looking' at things with ARKit

Apple is also making it possible for ARKit to detect 2D objects, and allow developers to interact with them. That's a complicated way of saying images on flat surfaces can be made to be interactive. This could be as simple as pointing your iPhone at a movie poster and seeing the title fly off the page, or it could be as complex as a full museum tour narrated by you pointing your phone at famous paintings.

This isn't as flashy as some of the other ARKit tricks, and versions of this are already being done with things like the Merge Cube, but baking it in to ARKit means Apple developers will be able use it easily. Who knows, we may even see something baked in to the Apple camera like the barcode scanner.

Everything in ARKit looks nicer

Lots of ARKit experiences let you see the real world through the camera, but you've probably noticed when taking photos or screenshots that the resolution isn't super high compared to a normal iPhone photo. According to Apple, ARKit 1.5 includes 50% greater resolution with auto-focus on the surface you're interacting with.

Not only does this mean the real world will look nicer through your ARKit app, but photos you take through your favorite apps will look sharper and videos should be recorded at 1080p or higher.

More Animoji on the iPhone X

How to create and send Animoji on the iPhone X

How to create and send Animoji on the iPhone X

One of the cutest ARKit experiences on the iPhone is also being updated with ARKit. Animoji now include a dragon, lion, bear, and skull. This brings the total Animoji character count up to 16, so there's plenty or personalities to satisfy there.

This is the only major update specific to the iPhone X and its TrueDepth camera. Everything else here applies to any iPhone or iPad running iOS 11.3!

Russell Holly

Russell is a Contributing Editor at iMore. He's a passionate futurist whose trusty iPad mini is never far from reach. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Reach out on Twitter!