The best ARKit apps and games you need to try right now

Got iOS 11? You need to give these a try
The best ARKit apps

iOS 11 is live, and that means ARKit is fit and ready for public consumption. Developers have been experimenting with some cool AR ideas all summer long, and now many of them are finally live.

ARKit uses a host of iPhone sensors to identify horizontal planes and deliver pretty impressive augmented characters and abilities right on top of them. You can't yet do vertical things, but that'll surely be added as ARKit matures and develops. Most importantly though, this is Apple laying the groundwork for an AR ecosystem to instantly jump start its AR smartglasses once they arrive - whenever that is.

Read this: What ARKit tells us about Apple's AR plans

But which ones should you try, and which ones should you skip? There are new ARKit apps coming out every day, and it's hard to keep up. We've chosen some of our favorites here, and will continually update this list as more are released.

IKEA Place

If there's a flagship ARKit app right now, surely it's this one. Incredibly entertaining and unbelievably simple, IKEA Place lets you take a look at tens of thousands of IKEA products right there in your own home. It looks so real that you could probably trick a friend or two (we certainly did). Bonus fact: The sound you hear when the furniture drops into place is the sound of real IKEA furniture being dropped.

Free, App Store

AR Runner

As Pokemon Go taught us, AR has the unique ability of turning our real world into a video game. AR Runner does this pretty well. The idea is simple: There are a bunch of dots in front of you that you must run toward. Once you get there, it gives you another dot. You see how fast you can go, and your score is put up on the leaderboards. Sure, running with your phone out in front of you isn't ideal - it'll be much better once we have glasses - but it's so simple it's addicting. Plus, it's a blast with friends. The more complicated paths are locked behind in-app purchases though.

Free, App Store

magicplan

Have you ever tried to create floor plans for your home? It's a lot of work, and many pieces of software are built for professionals, not regular people looking to invest in their home. magicplan aims to solve that by using ARKit, and it couldn't be simpler. You just pick which room it is, head to the corners with the camera and press a button. When you connect all the corners it automatically turns that into a floor plan. You can edit it if the software messes up, but it's pretty accurate. It's even smart enough to link together multiple rooms automatically.

Free, App Store

Stack AR

Stack is a simple game where you tap moving blocks at the perfect time to, well, stack them. In AR though, it feels a little more present. Even though you're manipulating everything on the screen, there's a bit of a Jenga feeling at the back of your mind. When we were playing, we got a little worried the blocks would fall over and we'd have to pick them all up - even though they were digital.

Free, App Store

My Very Hungry Caterpillar AR

There is no cuter game to play in AR right now than this one. Based on the classic Eric Carle children's book, My Very Hungry Caterpillar has you feeding an adorable little caterpillar, playing with an adorable little caterpillar and then watching it go to sleep to do it again. As soon as it hatches and squiggles toward you, you will absolutely melt. And maybe scream at whoever walks in front of your view and steps on him. Don't worry though, he'll be fine.

$2.99, App Store

Sky Guide AR

It lives: The best ARKit apps you need to try right now

This is how this popular constellation app was always meant to be used. They really should just make it the default version of the app, rather than a mode you activate. As before, you can move around your phone to look at various constellations and stars and planets, but you'll be able to see all of that layered on top of the actual sky. Or, if you're inside, the ceiling. It is much, much easier to figure out where the stars are this way rather than looking at the phone and trying to estimate in the actual sky.

$2.99, App Store

TapMeasure - AR utility

It really feels like every app developer with a suite of tool apps is going to deliver one of these, but at the moment TapMeasure is the best measuring tape app you can get. There are three modes: One simply measures distance on a horizontal plane, one is used to build 3D rooms and the other is a leveler for paintings and pictures on walls. All of them are simple and easy to use - the leveler especially feels like magic.

Free, App Store

Human Anatomy Atlas 2018

So this app is a little difficult to get the hang of at first, but when you eventually do figure out that AR mode is tucked away in 'Gross Anatomy Lab' seeing a lifeless body on your floor is a tad disturbing. It can be quite fascinating moving around a body and figuring out where everything is, too, but medical students are clearly going to get the most benefit here.

$0.99, App Store

CARROT Weather

It lives: The best ARKit apps you need to try right now

Are you ready for CARROT Weather to (kinda) insult you in person? Because that's what CARROT's new AR mode does. You'll get that familiar grey ball floating right near you, the weather forecast layered behind him on your reality. You just need to swipe at his base to see more forecast. Oh, and even though you can literally touch his ocular sensor, we wouldn't advise it.

$3.99, App Store

Thomas and Friends Minis

In this app, your kids (or you, you kid at heart, you) will be able to create their own Thomas the Tank Engine-based train sets. In the AR mode, you'll be able to take that train set you built and see it live in your real world. It's pretty neat, but the only thing that's missing is ordering a bespoke version of that train set for the actual real world.

Free, App Store

Monster Park - Dino World

It lives: The best ARKit apps you need to try right now

Apple has been using this app in all its examples about augmented reality, and for good reason; there's something cool about watching a dinosaur roam around a real world location, just like you're in Jurassic Park. Everyone loves dinosaurs, but have you ever chilled with one in your living room? Plus, it can follow you, which makes for some fun pictures. If nothing else, this is a great showpiece for how good ARKit can look - despite its high price tag.

$2.99, App Store

Splitter Critters

It lives: The best ARKit apps you need to try right now

Remember ant farms? Splitter Critters takes a popular and well-liked game and turns it into an AR version of an ant farm. You can move around this little box, getting different, Fez-like views of the level. You can also push in real close. It can either sit on a desk or hang the box up from the ceiling. Trust us, the images don't really do it justice. The game itself is addictively good, but it's that tangible feeling that gives it an edge. Feeling itchy?

$2.99, App Store

Fitness AR

It lives: The best ARKit apps you need to try right now

Fitness AR started as one of those impressive ARKit demos during the summer, but soon grew into a real app when people started to find a great use for it. The app syncs up with Strava, and co-creator Adam Debreczeni tells Wareable that he quickly found that his friends, fellow cyclers, were able to easily preview their rides in in the app and get a better sense for the terrain and elevation than a 2D map. In the future, the developer plans to add skiing functionality as well.

$2.99, App Store

The Machines

The Machines is the AR game Apple is using to showcase its technology, and you can see why. There's a lot going on, and it forces you to move around to get a good vantage point of the action. You'll be ducking and dancing around like a clown to command your troops. At the same time, The Machines feels like it was built purely for AR. This doesn't feel like a game that would work as well without it.

$4.99, App Store

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