A 3D model used in ARKit

Optimizing 3D Models for ARKit (Update 2024)

June 24, 2024

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What is ARKit?

ARKit is Apple's augmented reality framework that enables developers to create AR experiences for iOS devices.


  • ARKit combines device motion tracking, camera scene capture, and advanced scene processing to enable high-quality AR experiences. 
  • It provides APIs for detecting real-world surfaces, tracking objects, and placing virtual content in the real world. 
  • ARKit supports integration with SceneKit, Metal, and other frameworks for rendering AR content. 
  • It offers features like image tracking, face tracking, and collaborative sessions for multiplayer AR experiences.

How does ARKit differ from SceneKit and RealityKit?

  • ARKit is specifically focused on AR experiences, providing tools for real-world interaction and scene understanding. It's used for building AR apps that overlay virtual content onto the real world. 
  • SceneKit is best suited for creating complex 3D scenes and animations, whether for AR or other purposes, and it's often used in conjunction with ARKit for rendering AR content. 
  • RealityKit is ideal for developers who want to create AR experiences quickly and easily, with less emphasis on low-level details. It's especially useful for those new to AR development or for rapidly prototyping AR concepts.

Which file format is supported by ARKit?

The file format that can be viewed natively in AR on iOS devices without any additional processing or conversion is USDZ.

USDZ (Universal Scene Description) is a file format developed by Pixar and adopted by Apple as the standard for AR content on iOS. It's optimized for mobile devices and is designed to store 3D models, animations, textures, and other assets necessary for rendering objects in augmented reality.

With iOS, users can view USDZ files directly within the apps that support the Quick Look feature. Quick Look allows users to preview 3D objects in real-world scale and interact with them using gestures.

You can find the full specification of USDZ files in this link.

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What are suggested 3D requirements for AR applications?

Apple has not published hard limitations for 3D files in AR applications. However, there are some general guidelines that are necessary to adhere to. While there can be exceptions considering the number of objects in the whole scene, the subjective fidelity expectations, the below suggestions can be considered safe for a smooth experience with ARKit:

Category Suggestions 
Polygon count Aim for less than 150K polygons 
File size ~ 5-10 MB 
Texture resolution 2K or less  
Draw calls < 20 

RapidPipeline can optimize your assets by automatically simplifying your meshes and generating texture with just a few clicks.


How to optimize any asset to .usdz for ARKit?

Let’s dive into how we can use RapidPipeline to convert a model from Sketchfab for viewing in AR.

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