Augmented reality is certainly evolving into a popular technological trend, with a prediction that there will be over 3.4 billion AR compatible smartphones by 2020. As we already mentioned in a previous post, AR involves the integration of digital components in the physical world. It is an overlay of computer-generated content on our existing natural environment. This could be anything like graphics and sounds to enhance the perception of reality and boost the user experience. Thanks to Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore, enhanced augmented reality mobile app experiences can offer users the chance to display 3D virtual images on a 2D real-world background and then interact with them.

What is the ARKit?

Apple’s ARKit is a set of software development tools for developers to create augmented reality apps for iOS as well as improve different functions and elements on AR apps that have already been developed. In order to make the creation of these apps possible, the ARKit makes use of the existing features and hardware found on iPhones and iPads, like motion tracking and camera sensors. It also has the ability to locate physical spaces so users can then interact with them.

Augmented reality apps can recognize surrounding environments and overlay 3D digital and virtual objects in the spaces around you in the real world. Some AR features include adding filters or lenses to enhance the selfie experience. Currently, the leading category for ARKit apps are games with utility and entertainment apps following closely behind.

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The more recent ARKit 2, which runs on iOS 12, offers persistent experiences. This is where AR experiences will still remain intact when the app is closed. When the app is opened again for use, all elements will be in place as they were before. These AR experiences can be resumed at a later time without having to start over, for example, this could be an interior design project or completing an augmented reality puzzle.

The ARKit 2 also enables people to play games together. Users can share their AR spaces with others, allowing them to see the same AR creations from their own devices. This allows for the possibility of playing multiplayer games where users can simultaneously view the same augmented reality experiences.

Furthermore, this technology allows for object detection and tracking. Users can trigger AR experiences on 2D images like posters and signs, they can incorporate movable objects and detect 3D objects like furniture and toys.

Successful ARKit-Based Apps

After becoming more familiar with how the ARKit functions, the following are some popular apps created with the ARKit. Check it out:

Civilizations AR: Bringing Artefacts and History Into Your Home
According to the team: “Putting history in your hand – the BBC’s first ever Augmented Reality app ‘Civilisations AR’ brings art and culture direct to you from across the world. Discover the secrets of ancient Egypt, reveal hidden layers beneath Renaissance masterpieces and learn more about the origins of these cultural treasures and the people who made them.

Treasures to be found include an ancient Egyptian mummy from the Torquay Museum, Rodin’s The Kiss from the National Museum of Wales, iconic sculptures from Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth and masterpieces by Tintoretto, Bellini and Turner. This personal, virtual collection contains over 30 historic artefacts. Bring realistic, to-scale artefacts from History into your own home using cutting edge Augmented Reality technology.”

Froggipedia: Discovering the Anatomy of a Frog
According to the team: “Froggipedia, an engaging, interactive, powerful constructive learning Apple AR which helps explore and discover the unique life cycle and intricate anatomical details of a frog. It is a sterling example of how AR technology has moved leaps and bounds. The app provides an immersive and engaging experience which elaborates on each phase of the life cycle of a little amphibian called the frog.”

Boulevard AR: Exploring Works of Art
According to the team: “Exploring works of art has never been this up close and personal. Boulevard AR brings art to you, wherever you are, and now features three important paintings from London’s National Portrait Gallery collection. Representing 20th-century Nobel-Prize winning chemist Dorothy Hodgkin, the renowned 19th-century painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, alongside his friend, the critic and novelist Theodore Watts-Dunton, and lastly Sir Henry Unton, a diplomat and soldier from the Elizabethan era, Boulevard AR’s offerings reveal secrets and tell stories across a 400-year span.”

Monster Park: Interacting with Dinosaurs
According to the team: “Would you like to take a hilarious photo or make a video with dinosaurs, those who ruled the Earth a long time ago? Ever played with huge monsters in your living room, backyard or in the city center? Monster Park – AR Dino World is a new augmented reality game that lets you observe and rule incredibly lifelike dinosaurs and other horrible creatures with your device’s camera.

Take a look at monsters in real size, bring them into your world, walk together, take cool photos and record videos to wow your friends. Charming and mysterious giants immerse you in an augmented reality gaming environment. ARKit with precise tracking and light detection makes this whole experience incredibly powerful and realistic.”

Dance Reality: Learning to Dance with AR
According to the team: “We bring the dance class to your home! Instructors appear directly in your environment, so you can learn from the comfort of your home, on your schedule, at a fraction of the cost. Dance Reality uses Apple’s latest augmented reality technology (ARKit) to place footprints onto the floor in front of you.

You look through your phone to step on the footprints, then you follow the animation to practice common dance patterns. The app is not intended to be a substitute for in-person dance instruction, but it will get you started, and help you practice steps and rhythm anywhere, anytime. Practice makes perfect!”

What is the ARCore?

Similar to the ARKit, the ARCore is a set of frameworks and tools supporting the creation of AR mobile apps on Android devices running on 7.0 and later, allowing the virtual world to co-exist with the real world. Downloading the ARCore app allows Android devices to properly support the use of apps created on this platform.

According to Google, the ARCore has 3 main capabilities:

  • Motion tracking: the phone can understand and track its position as it moves. This technology uses the phone’s camera to identify any interesting points and features. Users can move around and view the virtual objects from any angle.
  • Environmental understanding: the device can detect the size and location of different types of surfaces. This includes horizontal, vertical and angled surfaces like the floor, coffee tables and walls.
  • Light estimation: the device can detect the lighting conditions in different environments. It allows users to light their virtual objects in the same lighting conditions as their current room or location to enhance the realism of the AR environment.

ARCore-Based Apps

Thanks to the different ARCore capabilities, augmented reality elements can be integrated smoothly with the real world. The following are a few apps built with ARCore which make use of the main functionalities mentioned above.

Measure: For Everyday Measurements
According to the team: “Measure helps you with quick everyday measurements around the house or office, similar to a tape measure. With the Measure app, you can: Measure the length and height of objects on flat surfaces, like the size of a rug, the width of a cabinet, or the height of a table. Easily switch between imperial and metric units. Take a photo of your measurement. Copy measurement to a clipboard.

Move your phone around the space to find flat surfaces such as a tabletop, the floor, or a wall. Then drag the distance tool or elevation tool onto a flat surface and adjust it to the right size. Tap the camera icon to snap a photo, tap the copy icon to copy the measurement to a clipboard, or tap the trash icon to start a new measurement.”

Playground: Animating the World Around You
According to the team: “Playground is a new mode in your camera that helps you create and play with the world around you. Make your photos and videos come alive with Playmoji, characters that react to you and to each other. Add stickers that animate around you and fun captions that put words where the action is. Playground understands your world, making smart suggestions to help you express yourself in the moment and bring your story to life.”

Tower AR: Building Virtual Towers
According to the team: “At last! You can do as you’ve always wanted and build a virtual tower on a real-world surface. Just point your phone’s camera at any surface and tap the screen to stack blocks on top of each other!

Features:
-Test your skills and see how high you can Tower!
-Compare your high score with others to see who’s the best!
-Try different tower colors and textures!
-Unlock achievements as you play!
-Play in AR mode or normal mode!”

Just a Line: Drawing in AR
According to the team: Just a Line is an AR Experiment that lets you make simple drawings in augmented reality, then share your creation with a short video. Draw on your own or with a friend, then hit record and share what you made with #justaline.

Have you ever built a mobile app using the ARKit or the ARCore? Be sure to let us know about your experience! We love hearing from our readers. Do you want to create your own augmented reality app? Be sure to contact us so we can help you out with the app development process!

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