Dear reader, we are very hyped for the future of AR and we wanted to share that with you. We know that this isn’t the usual GO Hub post, but give us the benefit of doubt — ARKit and ARCore are amazing technologies. This is an initial look at ARKit and ARCore in the context of Pokémon GO. We’ll be exploring possible applications and ideas in future articles, so stay tuned.


Remember the time when the buddy feature was announced and everyone was losing their mind thinking it will allow us to see Pokémon in real 3D around us? What a breakthrough it would be, to walk side by side with a Charizard or to go for a morning jog with your Arcanine. Well, it was not possible to do that back then, but two new AR technologies are opening the door to this exact experience.

Check out this cool ARKit demo created by just two developers:

The demo, developed in augmented reality with Unity and ARKit, shows a virtual corgi that can run, jump, bark and… poop! And this was built by only two developers, Lorenzo and Elisa from the Nana Devs team, using an experimental release of ARKit and with limited work experience.

Not sure about you, but we would enjoy feeding and petting our beloved Pocket Monsters in the real world. It may seem strange, but this kind of AR experience was never possible before.

Let’s dive in.


ARKit and ARCore

ARKit (Apple) and ARCore (Google) are fundamental AR frameworks announced in 2017 and form the backbone of what we call the “second generation AR tech”. In a nutshell, this post from Critical.gg explains three fundamental concepts behind the new AR frameworks:

Prior to the release of these frameworks, AR was limited to overlaying 3D models on top of a camera image or tracking planes by using specialised markers and marker recognition. In other words, AR was clunky, unintuitive and lacked the (honestly) expected wow effect.

Sure, superimposing a Pikachu on a camera feed looks cute the first time, but as soon as you realise you can not walk to or around it, the immersion is gone completely and the whole feature becomes one of those “clicked by mistake” buttons.

Real talk here — we don’t remember the last time we actually played with AR mode on. Maybe in August 2016? However, the feeling of broken immersion is not Niantic’s fault: the technology was simply not there yet.


Will Pokémon GO be a poster boy for ARKit/ARCore?

Given the impressive evolution of AR technologies, both Apple and Google expect hundreds of developers to provide apps and their take on AR. However, the question we’re curious to see answered is if Pokémon GO will jump fully on board and become a poster boy of the AR revolution? We think that the answer is yes.

Niantic has already announced that they’re working with Apple and ARKit, however no official confirmation was given about ARCore. Not surprising given the early nature of ARCore.

In an interview with Mercury News, Phil Keslin shared his perspective on the past year of Pokémon GO, but more importantly, he shared additional info about the ARKit integration that was demoed earlier this year.

Q: Does Niantic use ARKit?

A: We use it. We already demonstrated how we might use ARKit. The biggest one we did was the playground mode where you can pull out six of your Pokemon and stick them in a playground in a real life setting and walk around them and see how big they are. You don’t get a good feeling for how big a Charizard gets to be.

In case you’ve missed it, this is how Pokémon GO with ARKit looks like:

With that, we’ll end our initial exploration of ARKit and ARCore here. We are very excited for both of these technologies, so much in fact that we’ve created a “sister website” called Critical.gg where we’ll dissect and share AR demos and experiences. We’ll share parts of it on the Hub if it’s related with Pokémon GO, but if you want to learn more, bookmark Critical.