Apple has a new way to play video games – and I got to try it out!
Apple is adding new features to iPhone software that will make it easier for game developers to create augmented reality video games. At Apple’s WWDC 2019 event, I got to play a prototype bowling game to see how it works.
The game is called Swift Strike – it’s just a prototype, but the simple demo could usher in an entirely new way to play games.
The magic happens on the iPad screen. You use it to “look through” and see virtual objects placed into the world around you. You can then interact with those objects.
In the case of the game I played, I was using my iPad to virtually “push” a giant bowling ball into my opponent’s pins.
“What you see on that iPad is not really there, but you get it in your mind that it is… so you become immersed in this whole other world,” said YouTuber iJustine, who also played the game.
To make these games work, Apple is adding two new tools to its software suite for app developers.
One allows anyone with a recent iPhone to use motion capture. This means you can create effects similar to what Hollywood studios have had for years.
Another – more technical feature – is called people occlusion. This is a fancy term that means real people can appear in front of or behind virtual content and it looks natural.
In the game we played, you could see your opponent whether they were in front of or behind the giant bowling ball – no simple feat for a real-time game render on a consumer device.
“Actually being able to physically push something and use the vibration motion to feel when you hit the ball is what took it to the next level of fun,” said Marques Brownlee, better known as MKBHD on YouTube.
“I think VR is incredible but with this, it doesn’t take you out of your world. You’re still there. You’re a part of it – it’s something that you can do so much with that I can’t wait for the future of it,” said Justine Ezarik, also known as iJustine on YouTube.
As for me – playing the game was a lot of fun. One thing I noticed after reviewing the footage: I’m surprised that we didn’t crash our iPads into each other during gameplay. If this technology is truly going to take off, a bumper case might be a good idea.
Watch for games to take advantage of this new tech when iOS 13 launches in the fall.
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