Niantic and The Pokémon Company today announced that an update coming this week to Pokémon Go on iOS will bring support for Apple's ARKit, enhancing the augmented reality abilities of the popular mobile game. The company is calling this feature "AR+" and will be available to players running iOS 11 on the iPhone 6s and later devices.
Previously announced by Apple at WWDC, ARKit brings a few new advancements to Pokémon Go's augmented reality technology, including the ability for the app to fix Pokémon to a specific point in space. This scaling feature allows players to walk up close to a Pokémon and move around them freely, bringing the app "one step closer to truly realizing Pokémon the way they are supposed to be represented in the real world," according to Niantic.
Another advancement is in the awareness of Pokémon that players are trying to capture, meaning that the creatures might run away if they notice trainers are getting too close. But, if trainers can sneak up on the Pokémon an Expert Handler bonus can be earned upon capture. This mechanic is represented in an "awareness meter" next to each Pokémon and if it fills up the Pokémon will flee, although another opportunity for capture might come if the player taps nearby tall grass.
Both of these new features are combined for the Expert Handler bonus, which rewards players for moving close to a Pokémon in AR+ mode, and capturing it without it fleeing. The bonus will reward players with more XP and Stardust upon capture.
Regarding the ARKit update to Pokémon Go, the company said that "this is our first step toward making AR capabilities in Pokémon GO even more awesome, opening up the framework for greater AR experiences in the future."
During the WWDC reveal of ARKit in June, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi presented the Pokémon Go AR+ enhancements now rolling out and stated, "The Pokémon is so real, he's right there on the ground. As the ball bounces, it actually bounces right there in the real environment. It's AR like you've never seen it before."