Apple's coolest new AR features only work on iPads and iPhones with the newest processors

ARKit 3 pushes some serious processing, and needs an A12 processor for its best tricks.

Apple's ARKit 3 features occlusion, seen here.
Scott Stein/CNET

This story is part of WWDC 2021. All the latest coverage from Apple's annual developers conference.

Apple has been really excited about augmented reality, and at Apple's WWDC developer conference there were some new effects announced that push ARKit into new realms of realism. But you need a top-end iPhone XS, iPhone XR, XS Max, or iPad Pro with an A12 processor or later to take advantage of its wildest tricks.

ARKit 3 features occlusion, which can place people and virtual objects in space so that they seem to co-exist, and real people can seem to stand in front of virtual objects. It's like a real time green screen effect. It also has motion capture, which can analyze body positions and joints and allow motions to puppet virtual objects. And ARKit can also use front and rear cameras at once, enabling possibilities for things like engaging in virtual avatars while using TrueDepth camera to scan facial movement, or eye tracking. The front-facing TrueDepth camera can track up to three faces at once...but if your device has an A12 processor or later.

For a look at how ARKit 3 feels in action, check out our hands-on video below from WWDC.

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Apple's ARKit runs on iOS devices going back to the iPhone 6S and the 5th-gen iPad, and Apple's new RealityKit and Reality Composer tools will create AR on a large range of devices. But the most powerful graphic effects in Apple's latest ARKit need those more powerful A12 processors...and perhaps that indicates that Apple's rumored next-gen AR hardware might require at least A12-equipped devices to work, too