ARKit is a framework by Apple which is used to create Augmented Reality Apps for iPhone & iPad. It was introduced along with iOS 11 during WWDC 2017 (Apple’s world wide developer conference).
ARKit uses the device camera & sensors (gyroscope & accelerometers) to understand & map the surrounding environment as the device is moved. Once it has an understanding of the environment then the user is able to place virtual 3D models in that environment. Those virtual 3D models then feel like a part of the real world because you are able to move close to those virtual objects and move around them just like you would do with real objects – a chair or a vase.
This is how a simple AR app made with ARKit looks like. This is a video recording of my device’s screen.
As you saw in the video, I quickly map the surrounding area (Floor in this case) and place a virtual 3D model of Iron Man on the floor and then move around that model & even close to it. It feels so real!
(If you are wondering about the 3D models – they are built using 3D modelling softwares like blender, Maya, 3ds max etc.)
Running the ARKit framework on an iOS device is fairly heavy on the processor, that’s why we need a powerful iOS device to run the apps made using ARKit. Therefore, you would need a device having A9 chipset or above & running iOS 11 or above. In short, iPhone 6s, iPhone 7, 8, 10 and above are supported by ARKit.
Lastly, ARKit is just a framework so it needs to be imported into a game engine to create AR apps. There are 3 main options to choose from – Unity Engine, Unreal Engine & Xcode (SceneKit). We are going to use Unity Engine & ARKit framework to develop Augmented Reality apps.