Happy Star Wars Day! How are you celebrating? Apple and Disney would like you to get immersed in an augmented reality experience.

Disney recently released an update to Star Wars: Jedi Challenges, which makes it possible for you to play Dejarik, the holographic chess game made popular in Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope. With Jedi Challenges, players move animated creatures along a board by projecting the game onto a flat surface just like Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2 did in A New Hope.

Although Jedi Challenges has been on the market for a while, Apple recently opened up the game to players for free on iOS through AR. As a result, you don’t need to buy extra hardware to play the game. The ARKit Star Wars: Jedi Challenges update is an example of how Apple is delivering on its strategy of being an augmented reality leader. An important component of that strategy is to empower developers to create AR-based apps and to make those apps accessible to consumers. Apple accomplished both those milestones in 2017 by launching ARKit for app development and iOS 11 to open up those apps to consumers. Since Apple released iOS 11 in September 2017, more than 13 million augmented reality apps built using Apple’s ARKit have been downloaded.

Almost half those downloads consist of games. At Moonshot, we believe that AR will realize its full potential when it helps people and businesses accomplish useful tasks such as training. But AR-based games serve an important function. They introduce people to the AR experience, as Pokémon GO famously did in 2016. Pokémon GO paved the way for brands such as IKEA to release apps that perform useful functions such helping consumers configure products in their homes before they buy them – the role of IKEA Place.

In context of the gaming industry, AR delivers business value by making the experience more lovable. As noted in a recently published Slate article:

Augmented reality will be the next frontier for board games trying to stay relevant in a rapidly digitizing world. AR board games will combine the best aspects of mobile gaming with the best aspects of traditional board games. When you’re in the same room with your friends at a party, there’s no substitute for the hands-on feel of rolling the dice or moving your pieces one step closer to the win. AR versions will enable that fun to continue when you can’t make it to the party because of a cold, or when everyone needs to head home before the game is done.

May the Fourth be with you. And remember: let the Wookiee win.

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