iPhone 8's Augmented Reality Will Show Constellations with Sky Guide

Get ready to geek out, astronomy fans.


Arguably the most exciting of all the new iPhone 8 features will be turning your phone into a personal mobile planetarium by using ARKit, Apple’s augmented reality toolkit for developers.

ARKit was one of the most highly-anticipated features demoed at Apple’s hardware event held on Tuesday, having first been announced as a component of iOS 11 earlier this summer. (Augmented reality refers to technology that aims to virtually place objects in the actual world in a realistic manner onscreen, like in Pokémon Go or the Snapchat dancing hot dog.)

“[Augmented reality] is an incredible area for us to advance, and our teams have worked together to make iPhone 8 the first camera created for augmented reality, and the first smartphone designed for it as well,” Apple executive Phil Schiller said, noting that the Apple’s new A11 Bionic chip will speed up the time AR processing takes — up to 60 frames per second — and improve realtime lighting estimation.

Demoing the ARKit during his time onstage at the new Apple Park campus in Cupertino on Tuesday, Schiller showed off Sky Guide, a popular stargazing app made by Fifth Star labs.

Sky Guide is one of the coolest apps in the iTunes App Store, and is perfect for augmented reality. The Current version of the app shows an animated sky, and the direction in which the user points their phone will reveal which constellations are there. But it’s still an animated sky. With the new version, it will be the actual sky. Consider us pumped.

This a screenshot of the current Sky Guide app on an iPhone 7. As you can see, the the sky is merely animated, not augmented.

People using the app on the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or iPhone X will soon be able to superimpose constellation maps on top of the actual sky by looking through the screen.

“This isn’t some generic sky, this is the sky around you,” Schiller clarified before he was interrupted by the applause and cheers of excited stargazers in the crowd.

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