Apple is doubling-down on augmented reality technology, having debuted its new ARKit framework during the WWDC keynote on Monday. The platform would give developers a new set of tools to bring augmented reality to a wider range of apps. But despite Apple’s push to bring AR tech to developers and consumers everywhere, there are still some limitations on which devices will be able to utilize the new ARKit platform. Of course, since ARKit is launching with iOS 11, devices that can’t run the new operating system will be left behind. Beyond that, however, some features of the development toolkit could be restricted to even newer iPhone and iPad models.
According to certain language in the development platform guidelines, the ARKit toolkit will be restricted to devices running an A9, A10 or A11 processor. For example a tracking session configuration that could allow virtual content to be placed “in relation to real-world surfaces” would only be available to devices with an A9 processor or later. This would restrict some features of ARKit to the iPhone 6s, iPhone SE, iPhone 7, all iPad Pro models and the 2017 iPad.
On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that older devices — like the iPhone 6 — will be cut off from ARKit content entirely. In fact, the guidelines make a distinction between iPhones and iPads running on A9 processors and “other devices,” with the latter category able to use a more basic motion tracking system that “permits slightly less immersive AR experiences.” One iOS app developer told Mashable that all iOS 11 devices will be able to run ARKit apps, but the experience might be worse on those older devices. Typically, this is due solely to hardware limitations, they added.
The ARKit platform was announced by Apple VP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi at Monday’s WWDC ’17 keynote. The development toolkit would make iOS devices the largest augmented reality platform basically overnight, according to Apple.