The NBA AR app lets you turn any place into a virtual hoops court. Photo: NBA

The release of ARKit has developers large and small experimenting with different ways to incorporate a dash of augmented reality into their mobile apps. While Major League Baseball is exploring ways of using AR to improve the experience for fans at the ballpark, the NBA has a new free app designed to let fans play virtual hoops in any open space.

Why it matters: Sports leagues are all about capturing a chunk of people's entertainment time and budget. If people are going to be spending time in AR or VR, it's important for the leagues to find the right opportunities to interact.

"We've always said that basketball can be played virtually anywhere – and today that takes on an expanded meaning," Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, the league's senior VP of digital media, said in a statement.

How it works: A hoop, with the logo of your favorite team, can be placed just about anywhere and overlays on top of the real world, as seen through the smartphone camera. Shots can be taken with a flick of the wrist and the virtual court can go basically anywhere. It's designed for outside use, but works fine in indoor spaces too.

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