Pokemon Go Gets Better at Augmented Reality, Thanks to Apple’s ARKit

Pokemon Go is being updated with support for Apple’s ARKit, the game’s maker Niantic Labs announced Wednesday. The update will allow players to sneak up on Pokemons, and collect special capture bonuses. It will be made available to iOS devices supporting Apple’s ARKit soon, according to Niantic Labs.

Pokemon Go was one of the first games to popularize augmented reality (AR), and has since its launch included an AR viewer that displays Pokemon on top of a phone’s camera view. However, until now, this was done with a simple image overlay that didn’t at all account for a player’s surroundings.

The upcoming version will use Apple’s AR technologies to make sense of the camera view, and also account for the relative position of a player. This means that once the Pokemon is placed on field or street, players can walk up to it. When they do so,  it will actually scale accurately, like a real object would.

Niantic Labs is using ARKit to introduce new game-play elements, including the ability to unlock a special capture bonus. However, it also made the Pokemon aware of a player’s position. Walk up too fast, and you’ll scare that Pikachu away.

Support for the new AR features will come to the iPhone 6s and newer phones as well as new iPads, provided they run the latest version of iOS. There’s no word yet on when similar functionality will come to Android phones, but Google has been busy preparing the official launch of its own AR tech, dubbed ARCore — so we may not have to wait too long for it.

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