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Unreal Engine updated with preliminary support for Apple's ARKit in iOS 11

The new version of Epic's Unreal Engine provides basic ARKit support for iOS, developed in collaboration with Peter Jackson's Wingnut AR.

The updated version of Unreal Engine, version 4.17, was released on Monday. Alongside improvements in virtual reality creation and presentation, the update includes an "early, experimental" implementation of Apple's ARKit.

The Unreal Engine was used at the 2017 WWDC to demonstrate what Apple's ARKit is capable of. The demonstration was rendered in real time.

Epic's Unreal Engine was launched in 1998, and was originally developed for first-person shooters. The code base has evolved over time to accommodate other genres, and it being coded in C++ allows for wide portability with little modification needed on any given platform.

The Unreal Engine was first made available for iOS in September 2010, with a follow-up Mac OS X release in September 2011.

A marketplace for game assets for the Unreal Engine opened in 2014, easing budding developer's art needs for early versions of apps developed in the engine. Assets claiming to be tailored specifically for AR and VR have started to appear on the store, but as the engine has been built around 3D environments since day one, there is a large array of compatible marketplace content already.

Apple's ARKit is limited to the A9 and newer processor, meaning that the iPhone 6s, iPhone SE, and iPhone 7 families can use the technology. For iPads, the situation is a bit more restrictive, with the 2017 iPad, and the iPad Pros the only compatible models.