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2018: The Year of Augmented Reality

Apple’s ARKit is set to bring Augmented Reality (AR) into the mainstream in 2018. Here’s why we’re excited.

Once the domain of science fiction, AR is now unquestionably science fact. You need look no further than Pokémon GO for confirmation of that. The app was downloaded over 750 million times by the summer of 2017, generating $1.2 billion in revenue in the process.

However, those impressive figures aside, Pokémon GO is still something of a niche concept – as is Augmented Reality in general.

Yet we fully expect Apple’s ARKit to change to that. Everything points to AR exploding into the mainstream in 2018, transforming the way we interact with smartphone apps and the world around us.

In this article, we take a brief look at Augmented Reality, ARKit, and the reasons why we’re excited for the future.

So, what is Augmented Reality anyway?

If you missed it, we’ve written previously about the potential of Augmented Reality.

And if you need a quick refresher: In simple terms, AR places digital information into your real-world surroundings, via your smartphone, tablet device, or dedicated AR headset.

Ever used Snapchat? Then you’re already familiar with basic AR.

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And ARKit?

Announced at the 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference in sunny California, Apple’s ARKit was released as part of the iOS11 update. It has been developed to produce advanced AR capabilities for Apple devices.

In essence, it will support quick and steady motion tracking, meaning digital items displayed by AR apps will appear faster, smoother, and better. Thanks to ARKit, Augmented Reality on Apple will be near-seamless.

And by integrating the iOS camera with motion features, developers will be able to create striking AR experiences on both iPhone and iPad, without relying on third party applications.

3 reasons why we’re excited:

There are probably hundreds of reasons why we should be excited about Augmented Reality and ARKit. But who’s got time for that? Let’s take a look at three:

1. AR is far more accessible than VR

There are so many VR headsets available on the market, ranging from the affordable to the eye-wateringly expensive. But the user numbers just don’t stack up at the moment. VR is predominantly positioned as a gaming product, with a number of impediments to mass-market adoption – namely motion sickness and price.

For Virtual Reality to breakthrough and enjoy mainstream success, it will need to prove its more than just a niche concept – something AR is well on its way to doing. Until then, VR is for deep-pocketed and enthusiastic early adopters.

On the other hand, Augmented Reality does not require the mainstream adoption of new technology to be a success. Millions worldwide already possess the necessary hardware in the shape of a modern smartphone device. When it comes to VR vs AR, Augmented Reality is far more accessible and affordable.

And thanks to the 400 million iOS11 users out there at this moment in time, developing AR applications is certainly less risky than their VR counterparts. With a ready-made distribution channel, companies investing in AR apps won’t be left scrambling for an engaged user base to market to.

2. Big names are investing in AR tech

The combined VR/AR market is projected to be worth more than $215 billion by 2021. Now, that’s a lot of money; the sort of money that attracts the major players in the world of technology.

In addition to Apple, both Facebook and Google are heavily investing in Augmented Reality. Google launched ARcore, which allows developers the opportunity to create AR experiences for Android devices. Like ARKit for iOS, ARcore will ensure Android’s smartphones and tablets have AR capabilities built-in straight out the box.

And it was recently announced that Facebook was opening its AR platform to external developers, meaning third parties can now create and submit Augmented Reality features to the Messenger app for approval.

If you were on the fence about AR, you should feel confident that three of the biggest tech companies on the planet are all in agreement about its place in the future.

3. ARKit is going to change the way we develop and use apps

Thanks to ARKit, we will be able to add engaging and exciting AR-based features to new and existing iOS applications. If executed correctly, this will add real value to even the most simple of apps.

The possibilities are limitless. For starters, ARKit will help transform the way we shop, change the way we play with LEGO, and enhance real-world navigation. And if that hasn’t whetted your appetite, take a look at ‘Made With ARKit’ – a curated collection of the coolest stuff being made with Apple’s ARKit.
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2018 is going to be a big year in tech. Artificial Intelligence, Digital Assistants, Blockchain technology, and Machine Learning are all likely to be major trends over the next 12 months, and beyond.

And thanks to ARKit, Augmented Reality will be right there alongside them.

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