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Apple’s iPhone 8 event failed to show the power of AR, unlike its apps

AR is exciting, but you wouldn’t know it from the keynote

Apple Holds Product Launch Event At New Campus In Cupertino Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If you watched the Apple iPhone event, you may have been disappointed to see how quickly Apple moved over the phones’ AR capabilities.

In June, during the company’s World Wide Developers’ Conference event, Apple showcased just how important AR was to the company’s future. And not only in the realm of games — Apple announced ARKit, a platform for AR apps to live on for iPhone users. But today, with the exception of a few passing nods and a quick demonstration of multiplayer co-operative AR game The Machines, Apple was pretty light on demonstrating what AR could really do.

It’s surprising, considering that just a few months ago, the company highlighted a number of ways it was going to dedicate its platform to AR, including a better version of Pokémon Go. Apple took a large initiative in AR; going above and beyond what other companies were doing at the time, to give developers an AR-dedicated platform to host their work and learn from others (Google later followed up with AR Core).

The WWDC event also wasn’t the first time that Apple had shown interest in AR. In July 2016, hoping to build on the success of Pokémon Go, CEO Tim Cook announced that the company was going all in on AR. Cook added the company would “continue to invest in AR in the long run.”

But even if Apple didn’t talk about ARKit as much today, developers are pressing ahead, bringing a variety of ideas and games to Apple devices. Made with ARKit is a site dedicated to keeping track of the newest AR games and apps being developed for ARKit, and some of the more entertainment-focused titles look pretty interesting.

Bjarne Lundgren is a lead mobile developer at TV 2 Danmark, with a special focus on mobile development. He created an AR version of Tic-Tac-Toe, which allows players to project a Tic-Tac-Toe board on any surface and start playing with 3D pieces.

More complex games, including a fully functional basketball AR game with lifelike players can be seen below. The video doesn’t showcase what the game will look like, but a GIF of the game (from Made With ARKit) showcases how it will look once it’s ready. That can also be seen below.

Daniel Rodriguez, an Australian developer, probably has one of the most fascinating AR games yet: A Space Invaders meets Doom type shooter. Out of all the games being given the AR treatment, this seems the most likely to take off, if it’s easy to use and works as designed. It’s active, imaginative and looks like it could be fun if played in a safe environment.

These are all games, but the power of AR — what Apple is banking on — is home use. Those who can use apps to measure something or see how a piece of furniture would look in their apartment. Or, as Apple demonstrated during its event, use it to identify constellations in the sky.

And what about the potential to create films? Companies like Afternow are looking into the practical use of augmented reality that isn’t just for games. Jesse Vander Does, a VFX specialist and software developer at Afternow, told Polygon that the possibilites for AR and film are extraordinary.

“What AR can let you do is ... say you need to look at framing,” Does said. “AR can show you what a scene will look like with a 5-foot actor over there. That’s sort of where we are right now and, as more people start using AR for film and software becomes available, we see this evolving into the actual shot. The goal is to make the film as beautiful and expressive as possible, even when AR is being used.”

These are just a few of the designs that developers with early access to the newest iOS have been able to come up with. When iOS 11 goes live Sept. 19, expect to see even more AR apps entering the fold.

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