Will Apple make augmented reality mainstream with iOS 11?

Like every year, Apple took the opportunity to present new features for its devices at its developers conference. This time, Apple wasn’t content to just build upon its existing operating system or other products though. It’s now showing interest in a totally new technology: augmented reality.

ARKit: augmented reality with a slice of Cupertino?

ARKit is Apple’s framework dedicated to augmented reality, or AR. When the new version of iOS (11) becomes available, it will be found on all devices that have an A9 processor on board. Of course, that means users will have access to AR apps and games, but before that, developers have to create all these apps, which is no small task.

But, developers will be up for the challenge. Why wouldn’t they be, with Apple’s huge user base? Apple has everything to gain from ARKit: users get to discover a relatively unknown and amusing technology, and developers can gain notoriety and make money from the apps. At best, users will flock to Apple to check out AR. At worst, it won’t catch on with the masses, and the few who are very interested will enjoy it anyway.

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Augmented reality is already on Android. © Screenshot: ANDROIDPIT

ARKit: motivated developers offer up interesting content

Developers are already off to work, and the fruits of their labor are starting to show. Some have practical uses, rather than just entertainment. With this in mind, IKEA is working on a way to put virtual furniture in your apartment to see how it looks before you buy it, thus avoiding some bad surprises.

Always practical, there’s also an AR Measure App, which allows you to measure using your smartphone for those times when a tape measurer isn’t around. Again, this will be particularly useful if you’re at a furniture store and need to measure something like cabinets against the space available in your kitchen. 

On the other hand, there are apps which aim to immerse you into the fantasy world of augmented reality, where things are half real and half virtual. You can find many examples of this online, for example, you can find the famous m,n,k board game, or watch virtual basketball players go head to head in your living room. The most impressive video is this one: 

ARKit: Does AR really have a future?

Short of having a crystal ball, it’s impossible to know. What’s clear is that augmented reality, in addition to being fun, has some very practical use cases. And while many questions are still up in the air, as with any new technology, it will find its audience. Will it one day be normal to see a skeleton passing you on the street while you’re wearing AR glasses? What will be the impact of the technology on individuals and society? Big changes pose big questions, and we’ll just have to wait and see.

What do you think of AR? Are you excited by it, or apprehensive? Let us know in the comments.

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