Niantic’s CTO Phil Keslin teases audio cues and interaction in Wizards Unite

Portkey Games
Portkey Games


the AR camera (as we know it from Pokémon GO) lets you use your phone’s camera to catch a Pokémon that you’ve encountered on top of the Christmas tree. While this a silly example, there isn’t much else to do with the AR function besides taking photos.


Why? Well, simply – it’s because holding your phone in front of your face isn’t the most practical. It starts to look a bit ridiculous if you’re doing it for an extended period of time.

The notion of looking ridiculous was confirmed by Niantic’s CTO, Phil Keslin, in an interview with TechCrunch. The interview took place in September 2017:

Nevertheless the ridicule, Niantic wants you to explore the beautiful planet we live on and make use of the AR implemented function. This is proven by the relatively recent ‘Pokémon GO AR Photo Contest’ where trainers from all over the world had the opportunity to send in their most original photos to win grand prizes.

Let’s see how sound can be designed to augment the Wizards Unite AR experience.

Sound and Wizards Unite

As stated by Niantic’s CTO Phil Keslin, AR isn’t just visual. Audio is one of our senses and is therefore able to really drive us. Since walking around with audio earbuds or headphones is nowadays socially accepted, it’s a easy to fix the current issue of having to point your phone around to use AR.

There are a few ways audio could be introduced to a new AR game;

  • Your phone could tell you what POI’s are close by and interesting to visit.
  • Your phone could recount you new clues when you reached a certain waypoint. For example if we see ‘quests’ in Wizards Unite.
  • Wizards might have to announce spells before casting them, although the writer of this article personally thinks that would burn the candle at both ends. We can only imagine what it would sound if fifty people start shouting.

Harry Potter is filled with lore, intriguing dialogues and recognizable music – audio is definitely something we don’t want to miss out on.


We foresee that Niantic will implement audio cues within Wizards Unite. Whether or not this will be used to somehow control your character or get instructions, we don’t know (yet).

All this taken in consideration; Niantic loves the AR world of Pokémon GO, but in a future Niantic title this environment needs a new vibe. That way people won’t only use the AR function to take photographs.

One thing is for sure, we can’t wait to hum to Hedwig’s Theme.

P.S: If you don’t sing along, we WILL cast Cantis on you!

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