Tim Cook Thinks Retailers Will Find Augmented Reality as Key as Having a Website

Apple CEO Tim Cook believes there isn't any sector or industry that will be untouched by augmented reality going forward.

Tim Cook via Alastair Nicol for Vogue

In a recent interview with Vogue, Cook said he believes the technology will transform everything from fashion runway shows to shopping.
"If you think about a runway show in the fashion world, that's a great application of AR because some of these, you want to see the dress all the way around, you do not want to just see the front." That kind of experience is all the more important now that runway shows are catering to a wider consumer audience watching online, and not just those seated in the front rows, he added.
Apple's chief envisions a world where customers will essentially be able to "point and buy" products. If your friend is wearing a pair of shoes you like, for example, you could point your iPhone at them, and a shopping app could instantly bring up information about the pair with the option to purchase them online.
"We don't have a plan to collect all of these objects, but I know companies who are working on that for their products," Cook said. "If you think about companies that offer a fair number of shoes, and [if a customer] sees a shoe and goes I want that one, you just want to point and [buy]. That will be a part of the shopping experience of the future, it absolutely will."
Cook is so confident in augmented reality's future that he believes the technology will become "as key as having a website" for brands.


Some retailers have already implemented augmented reality features using Apple's new ARKit platform on iOS 11. IKEA, for example, has released an app called IKEA Place that lets you virtually place furniture in your home, with true-to-scale models of everything from sofas and armchairs to footstools and coffee tables.

Cook thinks the current selection of augmented reality apps is only the very beginning of what's to come in the years ahead.

In one early ARKit demo, for instance, a woman is able to virtually try on various shades of lipstick and quickly choose her preferred color.


Later in the video, the woman browses a virtual aisle of images of herself with various cosmetics digitally applied, making her selection a much simpler process than the traditional hassle of physical makeup application.


Cook also said that the technology needed for augmented reality glasses "doesn't exist to do that in a quality way," suggesting that widely rumored Apple Glasses won't be released "any time soon."
"There are rumours and gossip about companies working on that, and we obviously don't talk about what we work on. But today I can tell you that the technology itself doesn't exist to do that in a quality way," Cook said. "We don't give a rats about being first, we want to be best in creating people's experiences. Something that you would see out in the market any time soon would not be something that any of us would be satisfied with."
Cook's sit-down discussion appears to be the same one that The Independent covered earlier this week.

Full Interview: Apple's Tim Cook On The Future Of Fashion & Shopping


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Here’s a Look at the First Wave of Augmented Reality ARKit Apps Hitting the iOS App Store Today

With the launch of iOS 11 today, Apple has turned hundreds of millions of iPhones into augmented reality-capable devices thanks to the support of a new developer framework called ARKit. With this technology, iOS developers can more easily craft AR experiences for users on compatible iPhones and iPads, using each device's built-in cameras, processors, and motion sensors.

As of now, the first wave of these apps are available for you to download and test on the iOS 11 App Store. The first apps range from game updates to practical everyday tools and even apps that encourage a healthier lifestyle, with more refined experiences likely coming in the future once developers get a grasp on what users enjoy with the first wave of apps.

Note that to use ARKit-enabled apps on iOS 11 you must have an iOS device with an A9, A10, or A11 processor. This means ARKit apps can be launched on iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and the upcoming iPhone X. For iPads, you can use the 9.7-inch iPad or the 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The older 9.7-inch model of the iPad Pro is compatible as well.

One you have iOS 11 installed on one of these devices, head over to the new App Store and check out some of the ARKit apps listed below to see how Apple's new augmented reality technology works in your own home.

Games


Splitter Critters (left) and Egg, Inc. (right)

Splitter Critters ($2.99)


- What's it about? Use swipes of your finger to split a colorful landscape and guide alien critters back to their spaceship, avoiding enemies and solving puzzles in the process.

- How's AR used? Scan a flat surface and then place a fully playable version of the main game into the real world, housed within a small white box.

Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade (Free)


- What's it about? Control an Imperial Knight war machine in the Warhammer 40,000 universe and fight the evil forces of Chaos through 170 single player missions using cannons, missiles, and thermal blasts to defeat your enemies.

- How's AR used? Drop your Imperial Knight from the main game into an AR "Photo Mode" to take snap shots of the war machine in the real world.

Egg, Inc. (Free)


- What's it about? A farming simulation game focused on hatching eggs, building hen houses, hiring drivers, and researching advanced technologies to upgrade your egg farm.
- How's AR used? Take a glimpse at your farm in AR with a "Farm To Table" picture-taking mode.

Thomas & Friends Minis (Free)


- What's it about? Build, decorate, paint, and create full train sets and then control characters from Thomas & Friends as you drive through your customized train set.

- How's AR used? Bring all of your creations into the real world with the app's AR mode, which places your train set on a flat surface so you can zoom in and around while still being able to interact with various tools and control characters.
Continue reading Here’s a Look at the First Wave of Augmented Reality ARKit Apps Hitting the iOS App Store Today

Here’s a Look at the First Wave of Augmented Reality ARKit Apps Hitting the iOS App Store Today

With the launch of iOS 11 today, Apple has turned hundreds of millions of iPhones into augmented reality-capable devices thanks to the support of a new developer framework called ARKit. With this technology, iOS developers can more easily craft AR experiences for users on compatible iPhones and iPads, using each device's built-in cameras, processors, and motion sensors.

As of now, the first wave of these apps are available for you to download and test on the iOS 11 App Store. The first apps range from game updates to practical everyday tools and even apps that encourage a healthier lifestyle, with more refined experiences likely coming in the future once developers get a grasp on what users enjoy with the first wave of apps.

Note that to use ARKit-enabled apps on iOS 11 you must have an iOS device with an A9, A10, or A11 processor. This means ARKit apps can be launched on iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and the upcoming iPhone X. For iPads, you can use the 9.7-inch iPad or the 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The older 9.7-inch model of the iPad Pro is compatible as well.

One you have iOS 11 installed on one of these devices, head over to the new App Store and check out some of the ARKit apps listed below to see how Apple's new augmented reality technology works in your own home.

Games


Splitter Critters (left) and Egg, Inc. (right)

Splitter Critters ($2.99)


- What's it about? Use swipes of your finger to split a colorful landscape and guide alien critters back to their spaceship, avoiding enemies and solving puzzles in the process.

- How's AR used? Scan a flat surface and then place a fully playable version of the main game into the real world, housed within a small white box.

Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade (Free)


- What's it about? Control an Imperial Knight war machine in the Warhammer 40,000 universe and fight the evil forces of Chaos through 170 single player missions using cannons, missiles, and thermal blasts to defeat your enemies.

- How's AR used? Drop your Imperial Knight from the main game into an AR "Photo Mode" to take snap shots of the war machine in the real world.

Egg, Inc. (Free)


- What's it about? A farming simulation game focused on hatching eggs, building hen houses, hiring drivers, and researching advanced technologies to upgrade your egg farm.
- How's AR used? Take a glimpse at your farm in AR with a "Farm To Table" picture-taking mode.

Thomas & Friends Minis (Free)


- What's it about? Build, decorate, paint, and create full train sets and then control characters from Thomas & Friends as you drive through your customized train set.

- How's AR used? Bring all of your creations into the real world with the app's AR mode, which places your train set on a flat surface so you can zoom in and around while still being able to interact with various tools and control characters.
Continue reading Here’s a Look at the First Wave of Augmented Reality ARKit Apps Hitting the iOS App Store Today

Snapchat’s World Lens Filters Now Include Augmented Reality Bitmoji

Snapchat will now allow users to view their Bitmoji characters in augmented reality, through an addition to its previous "World Lens" feature. With the update, Bitmoji will be able to do yoga, skateboard, drink coffee, and more, all taking place in real-world surroundings in AR (via TechCrunch).

Image via TechCrunch

Similar to Snapchat's popular dancing hotdog character, the Bitmoji will anchor to a spot in the environment and allow the user to walk around the characters for multiple angles and photo/video moments. They will be able to grow larger and smaller by swiping up and down on the screen, and multiple animation options will be available for users to choose from. Some of these will last longer than ten seconds, meaning Snapchat's multi-snap feature will be needed to string longer clips together.

Snapchat was featured briefly during Apple's September 12 media event, where Craig Federighi demoed a few face filters in the social media app. On iPhone X and iOS 11, Snapchat's filters -- and other AR experiences like the new World Lens Bitmoji -- will be improved thanks to the advanced front-facing camera sensors of the iPhone X, and ARKit in iOS 11.


The AR Bitmoji feature is rolling out globally on iOS beginning today, with Android users planned to receive the update sometime in the future. To be able to use the Bitmoji in World Lenses, users will first have to download the Bitmoji app and create their own character.


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Google Reveals its Answer to Apple’s ARKit With ‘ARCore’, Bringing AR to 100M Android Devices

Google today announced a new developer platform for augmented reality apps that won't require dedicated hardware, which it's calling "ARCore." The company originally began making inroads in the AR space a few years ago with Project Tango, which required manufacturers to implement specialized equipment so that smartphones would be compatible with Tango's AR features.

Now, Google is "effectively shuttering" the Tango brand, according to TechCrunch, and focusing on the ARCore software development kit. The new platform will deliver AR abilities to compatible Android smartphones, immediately turning a large swath of the Android device market into advanced AR-enabled machines, similar to what will happen with iOS 11-enabled devices following the debut of Apple's upcoming ARKit.


To start, ARCore is launching on the Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy S8 (which must be running 7.0 Nougat or above), and a wider adoption of more smartphones will come later down the line for ARCore's public launch. By that date, Google "plans to have 100 million Android devices" out in the wild that support motion-tracking AR capabilities, and as more advanced smartphones launch the company said that ARCore will only grow stronger.
“We’ve architected ARCore to be able to perceive a wide variety of sensors,” Google AR/VR head Clay Bavor told TechCrunch. “We foresee, in the future, many more phones having depth-sensing capabilities and as those come into mainstream phones, that’s great, ARCore will work seamlessly with those and benefit from the additional sensing capabilities.”
ARCore works by detecting surfaces near the user in order to display augmented reality content in a stable space. The Android smartphone sensors will detect these horizontal planes, factor in the device's motion tracking, and estimate the light entering a room so objects can be dynamically lit based on their environment.

The company is also focusing on the web, which it describes as "a critical component of the future of AR." It's beginning by releasing a prototype browser for web developers, allowing them to begin experimenting with AR alongside mobile developers. In the future, Google says that these custom browsers will allow developers to make AR-enhanced websites that run on both Android and ARCore, as well as iOS and ARKit.


Apple announced ARKit back in June, introducing a developer platform that functions in much the same way as Google's ARCore. With ARKit, developers can create apps that take advantage of the built-in camera, processors, and motion sensors of an iPhone or iPad, resulting in advanced AR experiences. Demos of these apps have been continuously emerging online in the wake of ARKit's WWDC announcement.

Android developers interested in ARCore can begin experimenting and creating apps for the Pixel and Galaxy S8 smartphones starting today. To see more examples of ARCore in action, Google has created an AR Experiments website.


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Disney Announces AR Scavenger Hunt for ‘Force Friday II’, Some Star Wars Toys Coming to Apple Stores

Two years after the original "Force Friday" launched in celebration of new toys and gadgets for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Disney is now gearing up for "Force Friday II," which will see the launch of new merchandise centered on Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Force Friday II will run September 1 through September 3, with toys being sold at Apple, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, and more (via Reuters).

The items that will be at Apple retail locations have not yet been specified, but for the original Force Friday one of the most popular gadgets was Sphero's iPhone-controlled BB-8 droid, so there's a chance fans could see a similar toy launch next week. Force Friday II officially begins at 12:01 a.m. PT on Sept. 1, with more than 20,000 retail locations in 30 countries joining in on the Star Wars merchandise celebration, ahead of the debut of Star Wars: The Last Jedi this December.


Further enhancing the toy hunt this year is a new augmented reality experience for fans shopping during Force Friday II. Anyone who downloads the official Star Wars app for iOS [Direct Link] or Android devices will be able to scan select retail standees that have a "Find the Force" logo printed on them. When scanned, fans will activate and unlock various Star Wars characters, which they can then take pictures and videos with, post on social media, and unlock that character's data chip.


The more data chips collected, the more users will earn exclusive digital rewards, including Star Wars video clips and character emoji. Disney has shared a full list of retailers [PDF] that will have Find the Force AR logos for fans to interact with, and even some websites will have the logo for those who do their Force Friday II shopping online. Although Apple will be selling some Star Wars toys for the event, the company isn't listed as a retailer participating in the AR scavenger hunt.

Augmented reality has become an increasingly popular trend over the past year, and is expected to see an uptick in usage on iPhone devices running iOS 11 this fall, thanks to Apple's ARKit. The new developer platform allows developers to create iOS apps with advanced augmented reality features using the built-in camera, processors, and motion sensors found in iPhone and iPad. Ahead of the public launch of iOS 11, we've already seen some pretty interesting proof-of-concept demos for the technology, including AR apps for turn-by-turn directions, measuring tape, and furniture placement.


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Latest ARKit Demo Showcases Virtual Drawing

Ahead of the launch of iOS 11, developers have been tinkering with ARKit, Apple's upcoming augmented reality platform, and showcasing the myriad ways that it can be used in apps and games.

The latest demo comes courtesy of Osama Abdel-Karim, who uses ARKit to virtually paint on a notepad using his fingers.


According to Abdel-Karim, an iOS 11 library named Vision was used to develop the virtual drawing feature. Vision includes an object tracking feature that is able to detect the thumbnail of a finger and track its movement to enable the drawing.

Abdel-Karim has outlined the steps he used to create his ARKit demo and provided the full source code for the project.

When it launches this fall, ARKit is positioned to become the largest AR Platform in the world, using the camera, processors, and motion sensors in the iPhone and iPad to create some incredibly impressive augmented reality interactions.

As outlined in our video covering ARKit, the feature uses technology called Visual Inertial Odometry to track the world around an iPad or iPhone, allowing a device to sense how it moves in a room. ARKit automatically analyzes a room's layout, detecting horizontal planes like tables and floors, which then allows virtual objects to be placed upon those surfaces.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

The first apps and games with ARKit won't be available until iOS 11 is officially available to the public, but we've seen what ARKit can be used for, with developers demonstrating everything from live filter applications in a recreation of A-ha's Take On Me video to live measurements of furniture and room spaces.

Check out all of our previous ARKit coverage below to see what else developers can do with it:

- ARKit Roundup: Turn-by-Turn Directions, Precise Room Measurements, and Pac-Man
- Apple's ARKit Used to Recreate Classic A-ha 'Take On Me' Video
- Apple Users' Mixed Reality Future Teased in Latest ARKit Demo
- Latest Apps to Showcase Apple's ARKit Include Simple Measuring Tape and Minecraft
- Developers Share First Augmented Reality Creations Using Apple's ARKit


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Apple’s ARKit Used to Recreate Classic A-ha ‘Take On Me’ Video

Developers have been creating some impressive augmented reality apps and games with Apple's upcoming ARKit API, and the latest proof-of-concept video reimagines the video accompanying A-ha's 80s hit "Take On Me."

The video, created by augmented reality studio Trixi, uses ARKit, Unity 3D assets, GameFlow, and animations made using Mixamo to combine real world visuals with black and white sketched characters in the "Take On Me" video style.


The original A-Ha video featuring a sketched comic book character that comes to life took several months to create, but Trixi founder Chip Sineni told The Verge that the ARKit version took just a couple of days.

"The hardest part was not having the all the live video receive the post effect," said Sineni. "But [we] really wanted that effect of turning your world into the 'Take on Me' experience, not a baked in experience."

ARKit is set to position the iPhone and the iPad as the largest augmented reality platform when it launches alongside iOS 11. Developers have created a wide range of content using ARKit, ranging from the practical applications like room measurements and furniture placement to games.

The first apps able to take advantage of ARKit will launch this fall.


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AR Startup Blippar Showcases ‘Halos’ Facial Recognition Feature in its Mobile App

Augmented reality startup Blippar today announced a new social feature for its image recognition app that lets users build an AR profile using facial recognition technology.

Called "Halos", the feature offers users the ability to scan their face into the app and fill various bubbles around their head with personal details, such as their latest tweets, favorite songs on Spotify, YouTube videos, and animated emoji.


Once the facial profile is uploaded, anyone who "blips" the user – or scans their face with the app – sees the information as a halo of bubbles suspended in mid-air. The feature builds on the app's Public Figure Facial Recognition, introduced last December, which lets users scan 370,000 famous faces to learn interesting facts about them.

The Blippar app generally relies on users aiming their phone camera at everyday objects, products or images and "blipping" them to unlock helpful information, interact with brands, play videos, games, music, and more.

Blippar said in a blog post that the mobile app is mainly its way of showcasing technologies for other companies interested in adopting their visual search engine APIs – or in this case, facial recognition tech, which the company claims has more than 99.6 percent accuracy.
"Our faces are our most unique and expressive form of communication. Through AR Face Profiles we are making the face accessible in digital format for the first time, providing an innovative and dynamic way of expressing ourselves and discovering more about those around you. The technology lends itself to many other forms of implementation, and we are delighted to be able to share our APIs and technology with other companies, who like us, are committed to spurring on innovation in their own industries."
Apple has previously snapped up smaller companies specializing in facial recognition and augmented reality technology – two tentpole features expected in the so-called "iPhone 8" due to launch later this year.

In February the tech giant bought Israeli firm RealFace, whose proprietary IP could be used to power facial authentication in the upcoming phone, with Apple's ARKit developer platform likely to be used to showcase the handset's next-generation augmented reality capabilities.

Blippar is a free download for iPhone available on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Related Roundup: Apple VR Project
Tags: augmented reality, Blippar

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‘Mira Prism’ Headset Uses an iPhone to Power Augmented Reality Experiences

A new iPhone-compatible augmented reality headset has been announced today, called the Mira Prism, and it allows users to plug their iPhone 6, 6s, or 7 into a headset and interact with holographic images overlaid onto real-world objects.

The iPhone 7 sits facing away from the user when placed within the Mira Prism, and then a pair of mirrors reflects what's on the iPhone's screen and positions it on the front glass lenses, providing the augmented reality effect. The headset's app includes a collection of solo and collaborative AR experiences that are displayed above the included Mira launchpad, and any user without a headset can see what others are seeing in AR through the iPhone app's "Spectator Mode."

No plugs, computers, or wires needed. No matter where you are, simply open the Mira app on your smartphone, slide it into the Prism headset, and begin exploring the wonders of interactive holographic content.
The Mira Prism comes with a motion-based remote control for interacting with the various AR experiences provided by the headset, and the company said that more games and apps will becoming thanks to the Mira SDK. Engadget had a chance to check out the Mira Prism, and described a few of the games available on the AR headset:
Even though I only had a few minutes with the Prism, I was impressed with what I saw. I'm used to trying on headsets that are too expensive for most people to buy, so it was a bit of a shock that it worked at all. Beyond the initial setup experience, I played a holographic game that involved maneuvering a character through a maze, which relied on the controller's motion controls. Another game had me spinning around in my chair to destroy asteroids hovering all around me. I was particularly surprised how well Prism tracked virtual objects in AR, even though it doesn't have any spatial mapping technology like HoloLens and Meta.
One Mira Prism device comes with the headset, remote, launchpad, carrying case, lens cover, and a pair of AAA batteries for the remote, as well as software including Mira's core apps and a premium game bundle. In terms of hardware specs, the headset has a 60-degree field of view and a total resolution of 1334 x 750.


Users interested can pre-order the Mira Prism for $99 beginning today, with an estimated shipping date of holiday 2017, afterwards the headset will cost $150 at retail. A developer edition is also available, and will ship sometime in the fall of 2017, slightly ahead of the consumer version.

Augmented reality has been an increasingly popular area for many companies over the past few years, gaining larger recognition with games like Pokémon Go, and this year preparing to expand to every iOS 11 device thanks to Apple's ARKit. Developers have already begun showing off how the camera on an iPhone can fuel impressive AR experiences, including basic everyday functions like overlaying a measuring tape onto an object, or displaying Minecraft in the real world.


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