Apple's ARKit 2.0 boasts improved face tracking, 3D object detection

ARKit takes aim at Apple's installed iPhone base and enables developers to create augmented reality apps.

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Apple on Monday outlined some key upgrades to ARKit as part of its iOS 12 release.

Unveiled at last year's WWDC conference, ARKit takes aim at Apple's installed iPhone base and enables developers to create augmented reality apps.

With ARKit 2.0, Apple said it's improving face tracking, realistic rendering, support for 3D object detection and persistent experiences.

The company is also upping the focus on gaming with a multiplayer feature that lets users play augmented reality games against each other on multiple devices in a common virtual environment.

Addressing AR applications more broadly, Apple announced new file format for AR, called USDZ, that serves as a common, compact file type ideal for sharing 3D AR assets over messages, email or other means.

Craig Federighi, Apple's software chief, said the company is working with leading companies for 3D tools and 3D libraries to bring support for USDZ.

One of those companies is Adobe, which announced plans to bring USDZ native support to Adobe's Creative Cloud. Adobe's CTO Abhay Parasnis was on hand at the event and said the idea with the support partnership is to deliver AR experiences across the entire iOS experience. In one use case example, Parasnis said developers will have the ability to use Photoshop to make AR content, then convert it to AR via USDZ.

Apple also introduced Measure, an app that will focus on AR measurements. Measure will auto-detect dimensions of objects and is also capable of displaying dimensions for objects in 3D space.

By most accounts, the features are a precursor to Apple's forthcoming AR headset, rumored for release as early as 2020.