Augmented reality (AR) is quickly becoming one of the biggest trends in the tech industry, and it’s growing at an almost exponential rate. AR is the process of rendering digital elements, such as a 3D dinosaur or monster, in the real-life environment through a smartphone’s native camera view. Some of the most popular apps such as Pokemon Go and the new Harry Potter Wizards Unite games have adopted AR technology, and in turn, have made them some of the highest grossing apps ever.
AR isn’t just used in the gaming industry, it is also heavily relied on in sporting events such as soccer and football. Soccer matches render an augmented line on the field to illustrate when a player may be offside, and football matches often render sponsor logos on the field instead of painting them on to save money.
50% of customers would be more likely to shop at a retailer that utilises augmented reality
How immersive tech is impacting mobile apps
There are two other popular reality technologies gaining traction that could further influence the mobile app industry:
Virtual Reality (VR) is the process of completely immersing the user into a fully artificial digital environment with the assistance of a physical device, such as an Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. This device effectively places two screens in front of the user’s eyes to make them feel that they have been transported into a completely different world.
Mixed Reality (MR) is a mixture of both augmented and virtual reality where digital and physical objects co-exist and interact with each other in real-time by anchoring digital objects to the real world. Mixed reality has a variety of use cases such as gaming, construction, architecture, and more. Mixed reality devices, like the Magic Leap and HoloLens are still extremely new, and therefore come with a hefty price tag starting at $2,500. Expect MR to become increasingly more popular as the devices for the technology decrease in price.
So how will these technologies influence app development?
Apple, Android, Microsoft and others have all developed kits for programmers to build on reality technologies such as AR, VR and MR. Apple recently released its AR Kit 2 for iOS developers, and Android has its own version called ARCore. These kits allow developers to build AR mobile apps for Android and iOS without having to create the technology from scratch.
AR can significantly improve the user experience of an application. It can enhance learning experiences in the education sector, it can amplify design and construction experiences, and it can even assist with navigation through virtual instructions. Google recently announced that it will be integrating VR into their navigation app, Google Maps, to make navigating via driving and walking easier for its users.
Applications that fail to continuously innovate and adopt new technologies may slowly fail to retain their users. For example, Snapchat’s user retention and market share were rapidly dropping in early 2015. They released Lens later that year, which uses augmented reality to render animated faces and filters through their apps camera. Following the Lens release, Snapchat’s daily active users doubled just six months later.
New tech equals new revenue streams
According to Digi-Capital, AR could approach three and a half billion installations and $85 billion to $90 billion revenue within five years, with VR delivering 50-60 million installations and $10 billion to $15 billion in revenue. They also suggest that 50% of customers would be more likely to shop at a retailer that utilises augmented reality. In conclusion, AR and VR will not just affect app development – they will affect our day to day lives significantly in the coming decades.
There is no better time than now to start developing applications that adopt VR and AR techniques. The technology may be new, although it is evolving rapidly and the audience for these kinds of applications has grown significantly over the past few years and will likely grow exponentially as the tech is easier to access.