Apple is finally getting into augmented reality.
The iPhone maker on Monday announced ARKit, a platform that invites third-party software developers to created augmented reality experiences for iPhone and iPad apps. AR, one of Silicon Valley’s newest obsessions, overlays digital images over what you see in the real world through a camera.
The company unveiled the platform at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California.
Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, touted it’s “overnight, the largest AR platform in the world,” because of how many people own iOS devices.
Federighi demoed the platform by showing off digital objects like a cup of coffee, lamp and vase that “appeared” on top of a table on stage. The company also showed off what the technology would look like with the popular AR game Pokemon Go. Apple also mentioned AR apps from IKEA and Lego.
The announcement puts Apple squarely in the middle of an already-heated competition when it comes to augmented reality. Most of the big tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Snapchat, have made big pushes in AR. Google has its Tango platform for phones and tablets, as well as its newly-announced Google Lens. That lets people get information about things in the real world just by pointing their cameras at them.
Snapchat and Facebook both have AR filters that overlay things like flower crowns or Iron Man masks on photos or videos. In April, Facebook announced its own AR platform that asks outside developers to build experiences for its in-app camera. And Microsoft has touted its own AR technology with its Hololens headset.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has in the past hinted at a move into AR. “We don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: It’s for everyone,” Cook told with The Independent in February. “I think AR is that big, it’s huge.”
This is a developing story. Follow our WWDC live blog for real-time coverage.