If building with Lego blocks in AR appeals to you, rest assured that an app is on the way for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.
We were tipped off to Lego's dip into AR development because the software was briefly demoed at the ARKit unveiling at WWDC and at Google's Pixel 2 launch event. But despite Lego's early-mover advantage, the app has yet to be made available to the public.
In the meantime, we have Tayasui Blocks, an extremely Lego-like AR app, to tide us over. A recent update to the app lets you view your creations in AR mode.
Tayasui Blocks (or Blocks for short) gives users a basic block-building experience they might expect from Lego or even Minecraft, facilitating the creation of cubist sculptures without the danger of stepping on sharp plastic.
As one would expect with ARKit apps, scanning for a horizontal surface is required. However, Blocks takes a bit longer to accomplish this than most ARKit apps.
The initial building of objects doesn't take place in AR but on a stark white grid, kind of like the Construct environment in The Matrix. Users can place blocks along the grid and stack them, as well as repaint the blocks and the grid itself. Dissatisfied or bored with your work? The app also offers an array of explosives and weaponry with which to destroy your creation, reminiscent of the natural disaster effects in SimCity.
If you're really proud of what you've built, you can share it with the Blocks community. Better yet, if you don't want to start from scratch, you can use someone else's efforts from the same community and build upon that. Or, you can be petty and blow up a copy of their stuff out of spite. Unfortunately, like the construction mode, the destruction function isn't available in AR mode.
The name of the app, Tayasui, is also the Japanese word for "easy," although I'm not sure that's a completely accurate description in this case. Despite my experience using apps with 3D environments, I found navigating Tayasui's 3D space a bit difficult, which was a disappointment.
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In my short time testing the app on an iPhone 6S, I was particularly frustrated with the interface used for placing blocks. The app often placed blocks on adjacent squares of the grid or far in the background instead. I imagine the larger screen of a plus-sized iPhone or an iPad would ameliorate these difficulties to an extent, but I also feel like the app is missing a couple of degrees of movement to get to a precise or comfortable angle for accurate block placement.
Selling for $1.99 in the iOS App Store, Tayasui Blocks is priced modestly enough to give it a shot if building with blocks is your thing. But if you just want to put silly things in your photos, look elsewhere.
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