Augmented reality integrates digital data into the real world and can be used for a number of reasons. Whether you want your mobile app to educate, entertain, sell, or do any number of other things, AR has become a popular option when launching mobile apps into stores for users. A number of large firms have already jumped on board with AR development, using it to showcase their products, educate users about their brand, or simply offer a fun outlet for users. AR is emerging and evolving and it is important to understand how it is changing mobile app development in order to know if it makes sense to integrate it into your new or existing app.
Before deciding if AR is right for your mobile, app, it is important to understand how it works. AR works by integrating the user camera with tracking/analyzing software in order to interact with the user’s surroundings. Basically, the software identifies a sign, pattern or symbol when the camera scans it, and projects digital content, like an image or video, on the surface of the pattern, sign or symbol. One of the most successful adoptions of AR in a mobile app was Pokémon Go, which was launched in 2016 and found immediate success. While that is an extreme case of success for an AR based mobile app, it shows the potential of AR and the public’s willingness to adopt it.
AR has been adopted by many retailers as a way to improve the shopping experience for their users. Warby Parker offers their virtual try-on feature, which allows users to see what a pair of glasses would look like on their face in real time, which has quickly become the standard for any eyewear company with a mobile presence. The key to the success of their AR app is that it is streamlined to be as effective as possible without being gimmicky or bloated. A user simply chooses a pair of glasses they want to ‘try-on’ and the app uses the phone’s camera to project a pair of glasses on to the face of the user, in real time, allowing the user to move their face to see what the glasses look like on them from all angles.
Furniture outlets are quickly adopting AR as well, allowing users to see what the product offering will look like in their space, without ever having to move or assemble anything. Ikea has found great success with their AR app, along with other popular furniture brands, by keeping it as simple as possible, while also remaining effective. The user chooses a piece of furniture, and then uses their phone’s camera to show what the piece would look like in their space. It’s as simple as that.
While both of these are examples of AR being used by retailers, they give us an idea of what makes an AR app successful: simplicity and execution. While it may seem like most mobile development companies can integrate AR into your mobile app, not all of them can do it well, which is a necessity if you want to impress users. If your app rolls out an AR feature but it is clunky or ineffective, it can do more harm than not having the AR feature at all. Making sure you find the best mobile development company to partner with is of the utmost importance, and you should have some questions ready when you speak to potential partners.
There are many AR SDKs (software development kits) available on the market today, so making the right choice may seem daunting, but the development company you are looking to work with should get a better idea of which one to use based on the functionality of your app. Finding the right SDK that is compatible with the platform(s) you want to launch on, supports the devices you want to be on, as well as the features you want to offer, is important, so you should be as forthright as possible about your platform when looking for the right development partner. Beyond that, some SDKs are free, while others require a license, so that should be taken into consideration as well.
With AR, the possibilities are endless. Make sure you find right development partner that can execute your vision in a way that entices and impresses users, while also bringing you a return on your investment.