Augmented reality doesn’t have the same kind of hype as virtual reality (VR), but it has the potential to be a much more widely used technology, and much more global. And, unlike VR, you can use augmented reality without purchasing any accessories, like a heads-up screen or special glasses.
What is augmented reality?
Augmented reality, or AR, is a technology that superimposes digital information on the real world, using applications on smartphones and other devices. Generally speaking, augmented reality applications allow users to “oi” through the cameras on their devices. The applications then add data provided from the Internet to the displayed image.
Probably the most famous example of augmented reality is Pokemon Go. It also happens to be a great example of how technology can work.
With Pokemon Go, you open the app, then point your smartphone at something. The app displays what is “seen” through your phone’s camera. Then, if there is a Pokemon nearby, the digital character appears to exist in the real world.
Another useful example is the Vivino app, which helps you track the wines you drink. With augmented reality, you hold a restaurant’s wine list for your phone’s camera to “see”. The app recognizes all the wines on the list and overlays the average rating of that wine on the list to help you make the right choice.
Because AR works with many existing smartphones, and because you can use it much more naturally in everyday life and don’t need to put on a headset that cuts you off like with VR, many observers predict that augmented reality will become widely used and have the potential to change the way we do a lot of things.
What you need to use augmented reality on the iPhone or iPad
Unlike virtual reality, which requires hardware with apps, almost anyone can use augmented reality on their iPhone. All you need is an app that offers augmented reality features. Some apps may require other features, such as GPS or Wi-Fi, but if you have a phone that can run apps, you have those features, too.
As of the release of iOS 11, virtually all recent iPhones have support for augmented reality delivered at the operating system level. This is thanks to the ARKit framework, created by Apple to help app developers more easily create AR apps. Thanks to iOS 11 and ARKit, there has been an explosion of AR apps. Check out 12 of our favorite AR apps for iPhone and iPad.
If you are really into tech, there are also toys and other gadgets that have AR functionality.
Apple has introduced a LiDAR system on its 2020 iPad Pro models, although it remains to be seen how it will be used. You can be sure, however, the LiDAR system is going to come in handy in making AR even better.
Notable augmented reality apps for iPhone and iPad
If you want to check out augmented reality on the iPhone or iPad today, here are some great apps to get you started:
- Amikasa: The hardest part of furniture shopping is figuring out if a piece will perform well in your space. Amikasa solves this by layering furniture in your bedroom.
- Pokemon Go: In this hit game, Pokemon are “hidden” everywhere – indoors and outdoors, around the world – and you can find them, capture them, train them and fight them using your smartphone and of his camera.
- Vivino: Take pictures of the bottle of wine you are drinking and the app recognizes it. Rate wines to create a taste profile and track your favorites, then use the app to find the best prices nearby.
- Zombies GO! : Think of Pokemon Go, but put zombies in the place of cute creatures and you get the basic idea. The fun is that the zombies appear in the real world, right in front of you.
The future of augmented reality on iPhone
Even cooler than the AR features built into iOS 11 and the hardware to support them in the iPhone X series, there are rumors that Apple is working on glasses with augmented reality features built in. It would be like Google Glass or Snap Spectacles – which are used to take photos in Snapchat – but connected to your iPhone. Apps on your iPhone would feed the data to the glasses, and that data would be displayed on the lens of the glasses where only the user can see it.
Only time will tell if these glasses are ever released and, if they are, if they are a success. Google Glass, for example, was largely a failure and is no longer produced. But Apple has experience of making technology fashionable and integrated into our daily lives. If a company can produce AR glasses that are widely used, Apple is probably the only one.