IOS11 was released earlier this month with a host of design changes and enhancements. One of the additions we’re most excited about is ARKit. ARKit is a mobile augmented reality platform for creating apps for iPhone and iPad. It is a high-level API that abstracts away much of the work required to create an AR app, for example, world tracking (tracks correspondence between the real world and the virtual space where content is rendered), plane detection (detecting surfaces in the real world), and light estimation (matching graphics to real-world lighting conditions), lowering the barrier to entry for building rich augmented reality experiences. If there was any question before, it’s settled now. The age of AR is upon us.


Snap – Pioneer of AR as Advertising

Snapchat of course, pioneered AR for the masses with its use of filters. Face filters are fun to use and put the user in a playful mentality – which is precisely when users are most receptive to advertising and brand messaging. Snap continued to set the trend by releasing “World” filters. These allow the front facing camera to be used to augment any scene the user chooses.   Most recently, Snap introduced 3D animated bitmoji lenses. Facebook and Instagram have recently gotten into the act, adding filters and lenses into their apps, as well.


AR to get things done

Apollo’s project history is mostly about “apps that do things” – short for apps that are for productivity, enterprise purposes, or other consumer tasks. Many products use AR (and ARKit) in new and unexpected ways. For example, TapMeasure is an app that creates room and 3D floor models that can be exported as CAD files. FitnessAR allows a user to plan and visualize bike rides and runs in a 3D map. And yes, you can use it to go furniture shopping. These consumer uses of AR are the tip of the VR iceberg, where VR is used for security, architecture, event planning, training and other activities that become more efficient if reviewed virtually before or without engaging in on-site activity.


Deal Spotting

Note also the recent acquisition by Apple of German eyetracking tech firm SMI.

SMI was one of a handful of major players in the eye tracking space, known for healthcare applications, marketing research and software usability research. Upon acquisition, SMI ceased offering its products and essentially disappeared into Apple R&D. Why? Apple is gearing up to offer its own VR technology that delivers high quality VR experiences. By incorporating gaze tracking into the headset tech, VR can be rendered faster and developers can deliver content based upon eye movement in addition to head movement.


Entertainment Content

AR is part of a continuum ranging from 360 photos, to 360 videos, to virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift. As users become more comfortable using the accelerometer in their mobile devices to view content from the real world, these experiences will only become more popular. Have you viewed a panoramic image in Facebook? Of course you have. Have you viewed a 360 video in Facebook? Maybe. Have you viewed a Youtube 360 video on mobile? Maybe. Have you donned the Google View or Cardboard goggles to do so? Less likely.   Mobile screens are getting bigger and speakers are improving. Users watch increasingly longer form content on mobile. More immersive experiences such as pano images and high quality 360 video are a convenient gateway to virtual reality adoption. Today, a Rift headset will cost you at least $400. As headset offerings and costs fill in the price point spectrum, uptake will only increase.

With the introduction of ARKit, we expect the number of AR apps—profound and mundane alike—to multiply.


AR on the Mobile Landscape

A great AR experience won’t make up for a bad app. Any AR app needs to deliver a solid user experience backed by excellent product design in order to surprise and delight its users and deliver on business objectives. Apollo Matrix’s broad and deep experience with iOS (the team has been developing on the platform since 2010) and user analytics give us a unique insight into how to develop apps that satisfy users and meet your business goals. Whether you’re looking to engage consumers with your brand or provide your users with additional features in a new or enhanced mobile app, contact us to help you figure out the best way to unlock the value of this great new feature for iOS11.

We leave you with a Tower of Power hit as played on Soooooooooooul Train!