AR features for MLB At Bat app teased in keynote won’t go public until next year

Phil Schiller teased an augmented reality overlay on a live baseball game during the iPhone 8 keynote presentation. Fans viewing the match could instantly see things like how far a ball was thrown, how hard it was hit and how fast a player is running.

But while those features are coming to the MBL At Bat app, fans won’t get them until the 2018 season …

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CNET’s Terry Collins didn’t waste any time when he saw it in the keynote.

Also watching, my colleague Claudia Cruz yelled my name across the office to make sure we both saw the same thing. I emailed MLB spokesman Matthew Gould. “Let me get back to you,” he replied.

That got them both an invitation to see it in use during an actual game between the San Francisco Giants and the Colorado Rockies, but fans won’t get their chance to do the same until next year.

It’s an internal prototype for the remainder of this season, with the goal to debut the updated app in 2018.

But it sounds like it will be worth the wait. As well as showing live game data, it will also integrate stats from Stacast.

Evans and Greg Cain, MLBAM’s senior data director, pulled out iPad Pros and showed us how, by clicking on a player’s augmented image, you can get his data from Statcast, which uses HD cameras, a Doppler radar and machine learning to track every move on the field.

Statcast gives teams, broadcasters and fans an array of metrics and trivia, including that New York Yankees rookie Aaron Judge’s 495-foot home run is the longest this season. Or how his teammate Aroldis Chapman has thrown the season’s fastest pitch at 105 miles per hour, with the ball spinning a dizzying 2,600 times after it left his hand.

However, deciding where to draw the line is one of the reasons it will take a while to ready it for launch.

That’s what the developers are trying to figure out — how to make the data not too intimidating for the casual fan, but not too underwhelming for stat freaks.

What stats and features would you like to see? Let us know in the comments.

MLB At Bat is a free download from the App Store, though you’ll need in-app purchases to unlock premium features, including live MLB games.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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