Ways Augmented Reality (AR) Is Influencing iOS Development

Ways Augmented Reality (AR) Is Influencing iOS Development

Ways Augmented Reality (AR) Is Influencing iOS Development

In the 10 or so years since the iPhone appeared on the market, Apple has become a dominant player in the tech world. In the past, the company focused primarily on hardware, with the software that runs on those devices – such as its Mac OS, iOS, and the apps in its App Store – is a secondary concern.

But with the company’s release of ARKit to developers in 2017. Apple seems to be paying just as much attention to augmented reality as it does to its newest iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and Macs. AR and VR are at the cutting edge of technology and a lot of companies are focusing their efforts on creating hardware and software for it, but it still remains to be seen how AR will impact iOS app developers.

User Interest and Revenue

Next, to self-driving cars and the potential to take a rocket to Mars, AR and VR are the most exciting developments in technology in a long time. And clearly, the users who have embraced it are enjoying it as well. Last year, AR app technology grabbed $884.1 million in sales with the prospect of growing to six times that amount by 2020.

Not only are users consuming AR content, but they are also creating it by using the apps. Over 300 million of them create content monthly via AR apps. So, it is projected that by the end of 2018, over 200 million users are forecast to use AR apps as opposed to just 60 million in 2013.  The reason AR is so successful is easy to understand; people enjoy the integration of the digital world with the real world, but more specifically how AR can enhance it.

Advantages of AR

While the number of people using AR is significant, there is still a lot of skepticism surrounding it and whether the technology promises any real-world practical application other than virtually showing someone what a chair might look like when placed in their apartment.

The truth is several industries are interested in or have already adopted AR in practical ways. Industries like education, healthcare, and retail are all using it for better interaction with clients and customers. Of course, the biggest and most successful adopters so far are companies in the entertainment and gaming industries.

Simply put, AR makes interactivity more fun, and users don’t have to do anything beyond holding their device in their hands to put it to use. The GPS tracks your location, then the AR app does the rest by overlaying a 3D world on what you see.

Apple and AR

Apple CEO Tim Cook has stated that he views AR as a core technology, that it is even more vital than anything related to virtual reality. In fact, the company has deemed AR as important as the iPhone and more significant than its development of the self-driving car. The great thing about AR is that no special equipment needs outside of the iPhone or iPad.

For the developer who is already doing iOS app development, this is also great news because he can incorporate AR elements into his apps. Apple’s release of the ARKit in 2017 to developers made this possible, and it shows that the company is taking the technology seriously, not to mention the acquisition of AR/VR companies and the hiring of key personnel familiar with both technologies.

ARKit and iOS App Development

Released alongside iOS 11, ARKit gives a developer a leg up in his iOS app development. The development kit comes with templates to guide the developer so he can easily insert AR elements into an app. For instance, one of the tools is Visual Inertial Odometry (VIO), which allows an AR app to track the environment and a device’s position using sensor and CoreMotion data. Other tools within ARKit can show a camera’s view of determining horizontal and vertical planes as well as the lighting possibilities within a virtual environment.

Even More Developer Assistance from Apple

AR is definitely influencing Apple’s view toward virtual reality as well. While the company has not yet created a VR headset, plans are in the works. In order to help developers who might want to create iOS apps that take advantage of this technology, the company is doing something unique in offering a GPU developer’s kit Thunderbolt 3 enclosure.

And the specs for these enclosures are impressive, while not a huge drain on the developer’s wallet at $599. The GPU is a Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 350 and comes with a Radeon RX 580 GPU and a USB-C to USB-A hub. The only stipulation is that the machine needs to run a beta version of High Sierra, Apple’s most current release of the Mac OS. But Apple does not supply a VR headset for testing purposes, which can run around $400 because only a couple companies are manufacturing them.

As with everything Apple, quality and ease of use are paramount, so the company doesn’t care if it has a VR headset offering right away, according to CEO Tim Cook. For now, Apple plans to keep its interests in AR and VR closely tied to its biggest selling device, the iPhone. The company has recently partnered with a medical supply company to potentially develop iOS apps that can project an image on a contact lens when using AR content. The hope is that this technology would aid those with vision problems.


Without a doubt, AR and VR are going to play a big role in the future of technology and for Apple. It remains to be seen if the tech giant will try to incorporate AR/VR into current apps or open a new type of App Store. Obviously, not every iPhone and iPad will be able to handle this kind of content, but the company’s forays into it will help keep Apple relevant as it releases future products in the hope users will upgrade to take advantage of these technologies.

Guest Post by Michael Kordvani,

Michael Kordvani is the Chief SEO at mobile app development company- Fueled.

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