Ikea’s new AR app reveals the hidden potential of the iPhone 8 and iOS 11

Ikea is embracing augmented reality (AR) with an app that uses the tech baked into Apple’s upcoming iOS 11 release to position Scandinavian-designed virtual furniture in your room. 

The Ikea Place app uses the camera on an iPhone running iOS 11, currently in public beta, to superimpose selected furniture into an empty room, allowing budding amateur interior designers to get a digital preview of how sofas, chairs, tables and other items will look and fit in their room from all angles.

The app can also virtually replace existing furniture with items from Ikea’s catalogue and snap a picture of the mocked-up room to be shared around for second-opinions.

While Ikea’s current catalogue app can already overlay images of items onto anything which a compatible smartphone camera is pointed at, Place taps into the Apple’s ARKit, which provides a native framework for software developers to build augmented reality apps upon, within iOS 11. By using ARKit the Places app can be more accurate in its positioning and sizing of digital furniture in real rooms; a boon for anyone who’s attempted to quickly measure up furniture for a room.

Ikea Place is expected to be available for public use after Apple launches the full version of iOS 11 later this month, presumably just behind the official reveal of the iPhone 8 on September 12.

While the Places showcases an interesting and practical use of AR, it also hints at the AR capabilities the iPhone 8 could have and suggests that Apple could double down on its AR efforts, rather than attempt to go down the virtual reality (VR) route like Google with its Daydream VR headset and platform.

And having Apple push more AR tech in its iPhones could drive others to embrace smartphone-based augmented reality, which so far has arguably been a little lacklustre – though Asus’s Zenfone AR recently made a good stab at a dedicated AR and VR smartphone.

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