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Angry Birds AR is heading to iPhone. Here's what it's like to play

The app is an iOS exclusive (for now).


Angry Birds in AR. It's coming to iOS.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Games that use augmented reality could involve layers on top of the real world, maps that bend our reality into new universes. Or sometimes it's just launching birds into pigs.

Apple's next big AR game get for iOS is Angry Birds... which, while it isn't exactly Harry Potter or Pokemon, has an established universe of its own. Rovio's augmented reality game arrives 10 years after the first Angry Birds game hit the App Store, and it's an iOS exclusive for now.

I played the game in AR before, on the Magic Leap. It's also available in VR. The iOS game, Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs, is the first mobile version with AR. After getting to play it for a moment, it's a reminder that, in many cases, phone-based AR can be just as good as what you can get on a several thousand-dollar AR headset.

Just like you'd imagine, the game involves slingshot-launching birds into blocks and making pigs blow up. The game's graphics are on a par with other ARKit-enabled games on the App Store, with some nice-looking physics and environmental effects like snow.

Sarah Tew/CNET

But, oddly, the game isn't multiplayer enabled, something that Apple's AR platform can now allow. It seems like a miss not to have friends be able to compete. But even so, the game feels predictably fun. Vibrating haptics on the phone give you some helpful feedback, letting your know when the slingshot's pulled back and ready to launch.

It's also a reminder of where AR games are currently at. Many games can already place virtual objects in the real world. Will AR turn to surprising new art forms and directions next, or true shared worlds for massive collaborative projects? Angry Birds isn't Pokemon Go, but it's a cute game. It's arriving later this spring.

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