Apple entered the world of augmented reality suddenly earlier this month by unveiling ARKit at WWDC. Although analysts were excited about the prospect of AR on the iPhone 8 before Apple showed off the software development kit, they’re even more excited now and have been coming up with some potential AR use cases.
Meanwhile, some are starting to try out the earliest attempts at using Apple’s ARKit.
Apple’s AR efforts to be met by millions of compatible phones
Upon trying out some of the earliest efforts using the ARKit SDK, CNET was impressed with how Apple’s augmented reality effort already appears superior to Google’s Tango, which has been around much longer. So despite having a head start, Google hasn’t developed its AR offering much, as it still requires special phones with sensors that aren’t found in the average smartphone.
According to CNET, the only Tango-compatible phone to launch so far did not do well, and the next one will be out this summer. However, Apple’s ARKit will bring augmented reality to many of the iPhone models that are already being used and are compatible with iOS 11, and that without requiring users to buy a special phone that will support AR.
Apple’s ARKit better than Google Tango?
The folks at CNET said they were surprised at how well Apple’s AR system works when it comes to putting virtual objects in the real world on a standard iPhone using only a single camera. Apple also said at WWDC that developers will be able to start working with the second camera on the iPhone 7 Plus and 6s Plus very soon.
Developers that have been working with ARKit have already started uploading videos of their creations to YouTube, so when iOS 11 is launched this fall, there will already be a host of AR-ready apps available for the ecosystem.
Number of potentially AR use cases to grow
The nature of Apple’s augmented reality plan is that developers build most of the apps that will use it, so the company itself doesn’t have a lot to show just yet. For the average consumer, just the knowledge that developers can make iOS apps that support AR sounds interesting but hard to picture. However, analysts are starting to come up with some suggested AR use cases to capture ideas that are possible.
UBS analyst Steven Milunovich offered ten possible AR use cases in a note to investors dated June 20. He’s been saying for a while that augmented reality might be Apple’s next big thing, and then the iPhone maker revealed ARKit. He feels that augmented reality may keep consumers interested in the iPhone and spur growth even after the iPhone 8 “supercycle.”
Milunovich sees potential AR use cases in ten different areas: games and entertainment; enterprise training and instant education; facial and image recognition; healthcare and medical diagnostics; real estate; home improvement; retail; cooking; emergency response; and military AR use cases. He noted that the number of AR use cases and apps supporting AR will grow gradually over time. So far, we do know one company that’s developing an app using ARKit; IKEA is working on a virtual furniture app to let consumers try furniture out in their homes before they buy it.