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Apple

There was plenty of excitement when Apple announced its plans to build augmented reality support into the next version of iOS. And the enthusiasm has only grown as developers have started to play with ARKit and ponder what they can do."I don't think most people are realizing how much of a barrier Apple just ripped down," said Mapbox CEO Eric Gundersen. There are more than 100 million iPhones and iPads already capable of running iOS 11 and ARKit with nearly 200 million likely to be in use by the end of year. "They literally just made everybody's phone into AR experience."Gunderson sees Android phones likely to follow quickly: "You know Samsung and Google are not far behind on that."While iOS 11 remains in beta, consumers have started to get some early peeks at what developers are cooking up, thanks in part to a Twitter account dedicated to showcasing such efforts. Highlighted projects range from AR Tic-Tac-Toe to virtual measuring tapes to the ability to see items from a restaurant menu.Mapbox, meanwhile has been working on a couple demos of its own, including this Bay Area map on a table and this topographical map.ARKit may well be a prelude to a dedicated device like glasses, but just the possibilities on the iPhone seem pretty exciting.

Go deeper

The modern way to hire a big-city police chief

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

When it comes to picking a city's top cop, closed-door selection processes have been replaced by highly public exercises where everyone gets to vet the candidates — who must have better community-relations skills than ever.

Why it matters: In the post-George-Floyd era, with policing under utmost scrutiny, the choosing of a police chief has become something akin to an election, with the need to build consensus around a candidate. And the candidate pool has gotten smaller.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
48 mins ago - Economy & Business

Speculative crypto art market takes off

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Move over, GameStop. The newest speculative game in town is NFTs — digital files that can be owned and traded on a plethora of new online platforms.

Why it matters: Most NFTs include some kind of still or moving image, which makes them similar to many physical art objects. Some of them, including a gif of Nyan Cat flying through the sky with a pop-tart body and rainbow trail, can be worth more than your house.

New coronavirus cases fall by 20%

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New coronavirus infections continued their sharp decline over the past week, and are now back down to pre-Thanksgiving levels.

The big picture: Given the U.S.’ experience over the past year, it can be hard to trust anything that looks like good news, without fearing that another shoe is about to drop. But the U.S. really is doing something right lately. Cases are way down, vaccinations are way up, and that’s going to save a lot of lives.