This is the fourth article within a series of blog posts on augmented reality and the future of marketing. If you missed out on the first three Big AR posts, you can begin here.
In the current world of mobile AR, there are two mainstream platforms in which you can invest time, money, and energy: Google’s Tango platform on Android and Apple’s ARKit platform on iOS. Let’s look into Google’s platform first.
The issue with fragmentation in the market.
With over 2 billion active Android devices comes a problem: there are so many brands creating Android phones, like Google, Samsung, OnePlus, and more, it’s challenging to convince each brand to add augment reality camera technology in their phone. Especially when the market is slowly picking up, but not ready to launch into mainstream. As the costs are too high, many developers are also not willing to jump on to create immersive experiences until there is a market for it.
But there is a solution! It’s time.
Time will drive the cost of augmented reality technology down, and eventually, it will be viable for all of the brands within the fragmented Android ecosystem to make use of AR as a selling point. Once that happens, Tango will be available on all new Android devices and it will be a goldmine for innovative and creative developers.
If only something could speed up the process.
Apple announced ARKit this past June during their WWDC conference. It’s a platform, like Tango, that will allow developers to make use of AR sensing intuitively through the iOS device’s cameras. The difference between ARKit and Tango is that Apple has used machine learning to push all their efforts on the software side, creating a Tango-like experience that works with current-day iOS device cameras. No need for fancy sensors that push the costs of creating a phone and acquiring interested developers through the roof. This means that all iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices that will be able to run iOS 11 this fall with at least an A9 processor (released 2015 and on) will be able to run ARKit apps.
Apple, during their announcement for this platform, identified that this will immediately push iOS as the largest AR base in the world, running past all of the devices that can run Tango and all smaller initiatives in the mobile realm. With Apple’s base of 700 million iPhones worldwide, that means a lot of people running AR apps as simply as downloading an app they’re interested in, and that doesn’t even include iPad and iPod touch users.
AR for All.
Apple’s ARKit, in time, will push AR to the masses, providing developers and phone makers with a reason to pay attention and stay competitive on all ends. This will ultimately provide Tango with the means to thrive and push augmented reality in the hands of every mobile user within the next five years.
When we discuss AR, it’s fun to think longterm and consider how we’ll process our lives when we have smart glasses or contact lens, but it’s also important to consider where we are today and how we’ll possibly be able to head down that path, where one-upping the competition can ultimately mean creating a platform that thrives for all.
Which platform are you more interested in? Do you think Apple will push AR into the mainstream or can Google Tango’s last breath push it ahead of the crowd with a trick up their sleeve? Let me know in the comments!
EDITS MADE: Adjusted the iOS 11 ARKit device requirement to devices with A9 processors and later. Thanks for catching that, Albert!