Apple has jumped onto the augmented reality bandwagon by announcing ARkit development platform at its developer conference WWDC 2017.
The new development platform will enable developers create AR experiences on the iPhone and iPad. ARkit will be incorporated deep into iOS 11 that will give help Apple to create the “largest AR platform in the world”. The platform has been created in such a way that it is able to take advantage of the iPhone’s camera, motion sensors and graphics processors, to allow developers create apps and games that combines the real world with the virtual world.
As a demo of the capabilities of the AR platform, an updated version of Pokemon Go with AR capabilities as well as a AR game were shown at the WWDC.
Facebook and Google have already been investing million in augmented and virtual reality. Apple’s entrance into the augmented reality space marks the beginning of the mainstream consumer platform. Apple said that hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads will be able to run apps created with ARkit platform.
CEO Tim Cook had hinted several times in the past that AR will be as big as the iPhone. In an interview to The Independent earlier this year, Cook said that “the smartphone is for everyone, we don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: it’s for everyone. I think AR is that big, it’s huge. I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives”.
With the release of ARkit to developers, Apple is bringing the AR tech to the masses through iPhones and iPads that they already own. This move will make Apple a little far ahead than both Google and Microsoft in the augmented reality segment. For instance, Microsoft’s HoloLens, a headset that costs $3000, is a great example of Mixed Reality. But it’s high price is a barrier to million of potential users.
Meanwhile, Google Tango, a specialized AR platform, is available on a handful of devices. Tango needs a dedicated hardware, while Microsoft is asking you to invest in a headset that’s largely inaccessible to users. Apple isn’t even asking to invest in a special hardware to experience augmented reality apps.