The next big battleground in the smartphone industry will be augmented reality (AR), as both Apple and Google are set to include AR tools in their newest phone, camera and system releases over the next few months.
AR is nothing new after but failed attempts at making the concept a reality for the mass market, with Google Glass among others, AR was brought back to people’s attention in 2016 with the launch of Pokémon Go.
Google has been at the forefront of AR and has been working on its augmented reality platform Project Tango since 2014 but it’s Apple which has recently stolen a march with their ARKit, due to be released as part of iOS 11 in the coming weeks.
Apple’s system doesn’t need any specialist hardware, meaning ARKit will not only work on the anticipated next iPhone, but also on models as old as the iPhone 6S, released in 2015.
This is great news for AR as it helps to push it to the mainstream quickly and creates the need for companies to invest in new tech to get started.
Google has announced a brand new system called ARCore, which takes a similar approach to Apple’s ARKit in that it doesn’t require special depth sensors to operate unlike Project Tango.
Google will make ARCore available to at least 100 million users, starting with owners of Samsung’s top-end Galaxy S8 smartphone and Google’s own-brand Pixel phone.
With the technology becoming more widely accessible through pre-existing devices it will start to get a whole lot easier to use AR. It will be interesting to see how this technology is used, as rather than just using the camera to overlay virtual objects or information on the real world it will be about creating something that is truly useful and engages users.