Augmented reality (AR) apps are becoming mainstream, from Snapchat and it’s rise to glory using creative AR features, to the practicality of AR, small scale applications are seeing a surge of popularity. What we now have in the palms of our hands when it comes to smartphones, is the same level of technology which landed the first man on the moon. As of late, augmented reality technologies have started to trickle into mobile-centric apps. With this new trend, to what degree will it truly make people’s lives easier, or is augmented reality too niche for any sort of meaningful growth potential.
How AR apps went mainstream
Summer 2017 was a turning point for AR integrations for mobile devices. After the success of AR game Pokemon Go, Apple and Samsung started to create public AR frameworks open to app developers specifically for creating AR centric applications. ARKit for iOS launched on June 5, 2017, and ARCore for Android launched on August 29th, 2017 to allow developers to create applications with 3-D environmental awareness. With thousands of AR apps on the iOS app store currently and in the hundreds on the Google play store, there is more emphasis these days on creating an application that has AR capabilities in the pursuit of making iAR Apps which can simplify our lives in different ways than traditional mobile apps.
Snapchat and creative AR
The introduction of AR integration into a non-augmented reality app is so far one of the greatest successes of AR. Snapchat filters which overlay an image over the face or create an entirely 3D animation within your 3D environment using your phone's camera has taken off in popularity mainly due to the accessibility that Snapchat gives the user.
Snapchat is one of the most popular photo sharing and content generation apps on the market today with over 180 million daily active users. The augmented reality lenses featured on Snapchat are used by just under half of that in 70 Million users. Instagram has also recently added augmented reality lenses and filters to its platform offering them for Instagram stories. It helps that many of these filters are used to improve our online self-image and make us look more attractive by using them.
So it’s entertaining … can it be practical?
It seems like many AR apps that have traction at the moment, are nothing more than time passes and although innovative, don't have any practical merit to making life more comfortable. So are there any large scale practical applications of AR? The answer is a resounding yes. Google Lens a powerful and practical AR app allows you to scan and analyze objects, landmarks, and images and at the same times scours the computing cloud for any relevant information, facts, hours of operation and anything important the app finds regarding whatever you have just scanned.
Google Maps is also using AR integrations into your environment to help you better navigate to your destinations utilizing a series of generated signs and directional arrows. YouCam makeup allows you to try different makeup products onto your face in a similar way to previously mentioned Snapchat lens filters.
Ikea Place enables you to see how a specific furniture item from Ikea would look like in your office, bedroom or kitchen without buying it and lugging it home to see for yourself. New versions of iOS also have a default measuring tool that uses AR technology to get more precise measurements. All of these applications save time and give more context to your 3D vanilla environment.
Mobile AR ventures are just beginning to hit its stride. With ARKit and ARCore still being rudimentary in the tools it offers application developers, and with AR Applications being mainly for entertainment purposes thus far, there is a slow but steady acclimatization period for the technology as a whole. With Mobile AR Applications, the key is in its simplicity and keeping things just on the edge of making it worthwhile to use compared to traditional methods.
It's easy to see how some of the applications in the prior paragraph could help consumers realize this. As corporations, companies, and businesses try to leverage this software for seamless customer experience, Mobile AR will start that balance in intuitive design.