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Apple to Release Phone-to-Phone AR

Apple Inc will release tools next week to let two iPhone users share augmented reality while putting a limit on the personal data sent to its servers.

The U.S. tech giant will announce its multiplayer AR at its developer conference that will begin on Monday.

AR has become a major focus at both companies. Apple CEO Tim Cook has called it “big and profound,” and the company released its first tools to let software developers make AR apps last year.

With that release, Apple made AR possible on many phones without any modifications.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality (AR) allows viewers to see virtual structures superimposed on their surroundings via their smartphones or other devices.

It is the technology used in mobile game Pokemon Go, and by industry, such as factories seeking to map new assembly lines.

Both Apple and Google are seeking to allow two people to share data so they can see the same virtual object in the same space via their individual devices.

But that has sparked privacy concerns – if AR apps become commonplace, people will be scanning their homes and other personal spaces routinely, developers say.

Apple designed its two-player system to work phone-to-phone in part because of those privacy concerns, one of the people familiar with the matter said. The approach, which has not been previously reported, differs from Google’s, which requires scans of a player’s environment to be sent to, and stored in, the cloud.

Apple & Google

Both Apple and rival Google are racing to release augmented reality tools in order to attract software developers to their platforms.

The move spurred Google to abandon an AR effort that required phones to have special sensors and instead build tools for AR on conventional phones.

The race between the two has heated up since then. At its own developer conference in May, Google rolled out tools for making multiplayer AR games. The system, called Cloud Anchors, requires the first player to scan his or her environment and then upload the raw mapping data to Google’s servers, where it is translated into a rough representation of the area.

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