Apple fans keep waiting for Apple to launch an augmented reality (AR) big bang, which will likely arrive in the future in the form of a new device category, combined with Apple’s ARKit powered software. But as its 2018 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) has demonstrated, Apple is taking a more measured approach, delivering incremental improvements to manage expectations about the quality of the AR experience.
For example, at WWDC, Apple announced a new and improved version of the ARKit software released in 2017. ARKit is important to deliver on Apple’s vision to shape the future of AR. ARKit makes it possible for developers to create AR apps ranging from games to IKEA’s try-before-you-buy product visualizer. At WWDC, Apple announced ARKit 2, which provides enhancements such as more realistic rendering, 3D object detection, and improved face tracking.
These improvements may seem geeky to the uninitiated, but they’re important. For AR to achieve popular usage among people and businesses, the experience needs to solve real-world problems like learning a new skill. Using AR to play games is fine, but AR needs to do more than enable Pokémon GO to deliver on its real potential to make our everyday lives better.
But even with Apple’s investment into AR, the experience is still in its early stages. AR experiences still look like too cartoonlike to really make you feel like you’re overlaying a digital object in a meaningful way on to a physical environment. And moving objects around an environment such as a room – say, overlaying an IKEA sofa on to your living room – needs to become more accurate and lifelike for an AR experience to truly augment reality with sharply defined images rather than create a fair but less-convincing augmentation of the real world.
Put another way, we want to see crisply defined objects appear exactly where we want to place them, not a cartoon.
ARKit 2 promises to move AR closer to a more fully realized and adopted AR. And with Apple rolling out iOS 12 with better performance (apps launch 40 percent faster, for instance), Apple is preparing its operational systems to support these experience. For example, Apple launched Measure, available in iOS 12. Measure uses AR to gauge the size of real-world objects similar to a tape measure. As Apple said on its website, “The new app automatically provides the dimensions of objects like picture frames, posters and signs, and can also show diagonal measurements, compute area and allow users to take a photo and share it with accurate dimensions right from their iPhone or iPad.”
Now is the time for businesses to define a strategy for how AR, virtual reality, and mixed reality will help you develop more lovable products. Tools such as ARKit 2 are ideal for testing and learning. To get started with immersive reality in your organization, download The Executive Guide to Immersive Reality, published by Moonshot. And let us know how you’re applying immersive reality.