For All Mankind Time Capsule AR App Bridges the Gap Between
Posted On February 11, 2021
For All Mankind now has an AR experience. Apple and series co-creator Ronald D. Moore have unveiled For All Mankind Time Capsule, an augmented reality app — now available on iPhone and iPad — that explores the decade-long gap between seasons one and two of the Apple TV+ show. Season 1 ended in 1974, and For All Mankind season 2 picks up in 1983. For All Mankind Time Capsule is told through the eyes of teenage Danny Stevens, the son of astronauts Gordo (Michael Dorman) and Tracy Stevens (Sarah Jones). In it, you will explore a box filled with interactive keepsakes, full of details about his life and the For All Mankind universe.
“This was something that came up very early in the development of For All Mankind,” Moore told reporters over video conference. “Like literally when we had sold the show For All Mankind, one of our very first meetings with people from Apple was with the group that was working on AR.” Moore and Co. noted that For All Mankind Time Capsule allows them to explore their alt-history world in ways and with more depth than would be possible in a structured TV series format that has its own narrative threads to deal with.
For All Mankind Time Capsule features a total of four characters: the aforementioned Danny, his dad Gordo (Dorman) who leaves Danny voice messages, fellow astronaut Danielle Poole (Krys Marshall) who serves as the narrator, and new entrant to season 2 in Kelly Baldwin (Cynthy Wu), the adopted daughter of Ed (Joel Kinnaman) and Karen Baldwin (Shantel VanSanten) who’s Danny’s new best friend.
And while Apple handled the bulk of the work, given this is an app first, Moore noted that the For All Mankind creative team was heavily involved with For All Mankind Time Capsule. That included writer Stephanie Shannon (For All Mankind season 1 episode 6, and the upcoming season 2 episode 3), who worked on the stories involving Danny, and had to ensure that anything that happened on For All Mankind season 2 wouldn’t be contradicted by For All Mankind Time Capsule. It also involved production designers and researchers who contributed to how this alternate world functions.
The Apple II inside For All Mankind Time Capsule Photo Credit: Apple
For instance, email for everyone has arrived earlier in For All Mankind than it did in our world. As such, email — or rather “d-mail” for digital mail, as it’s known in the show — is available on devices that never had it on our world, such as the Apple II. The computer (rendered entirely in AR) is part of For All Mankind Time Capsule, with Danny reading an email “d-mail” from his girlfriend Lisa (she wasn’t a character on For All Mankind season 1, and unlikely to be on season 2 either). The Apple II also features a text adventure game called Crater Quest, which draws on the events of season 1.
These are part of one chapter in the For All Mankind AR experience. For All Mankind Time Capsule consists of seven such chapters, with each of them linking into the next one through virtual objects. It could be a mixtape that features songs from Bob Dylan, Boston, or Earth, Wind & Fire. It could be an old VCR tape that contains ‘80s TV clips, Tracy’s launch to Skylab (the first US space station), or a news report about escalating Cold War tensions — just like the many (fictional) news reports on For All Mankind, this one was created by the producers themselves, purposely for the AR app. Or it could be Stevens’ family mail, or an edition of Corvette magazine with Gordo on the cover.
For All Mankind Time Capsule will last about 45 minutes, a little less than hour-long episodes that make up the Apple TV+ series. Just like the show, it’s a linear narrative at first — but once you’ve gone through all seven chapters, you’re free to dive into your favourite moments and dig into keepsakes that you may not have discovered. There’s a lot in the app, and the For All Mankind team recommends that you go through it at least a couple times. But don’t expect any new story moments to be released, this is everything.
The AR experience makes full use of Apple’s ARKit tools, including people occlusion and dynamic lighting, in addition to instant AR and object occlusion for devices with a LiDAR scanner. Currently, the only Apple devices with a LiDAR scanner are iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, and iPad Pro. That’s an expensive investment to enjoy For All Mankind Time Capsule to its fullest.
The LiDAR portions of For All Mankind Time Capsule Photo Credit: Apple
If you’re lucky enough to be on the bleeding edge, you’ll get access to two additional scenes on For All Mankind Time Capsule — that means a total of nine chapters, unlike seven for everyone else. One of these scenes involves a projector. With the help of LiDAR, the virtual projector feels close to a real one, as the photos — Danny and Lisa’s road trip to Austin, and some old Stevens family photos — are projected perfectly onto any wall (be it a curved or textured wall) or objects (like a chair, plant, or dresser) that exist in your home.
For All Mankind Time Capsule is out now for iPhone and iPad. It’s been only developed for Apple devices — it’s an Apple TV+ show after all. For All Mankind season 2 premieres February 19 on Apple TV+ worldwide, with one episode every week.