Augmented reality is among the biggest trends these days, and you may hardly meet anyone who is not familiar with it. Although most people still consider AR as an entertainment technology, we can see its practical implementations in various industries like e-commerce, healthcare, architecture, training, and many others.
Organizations have already started using AR to develop their product portfolios, interactive advertising campaigns, and offer real-time information to their consumers.
As per Statista research, the global AR, VR, and MR market already surpassed $27 billion in 2021, and it is going to rise exponentially hereafter.
AR-aided apps can transform industries ranging from e-commerce and tourism to training and education.
If you are interested to board the AR bandwagon, then this is the right time to build AR applications.
An AR software development kit or AR SDK is the key to AR app development. In this blog, we will cover some highly popular software development tools used for AR app development.
Criteria For Selecting the Best AR SDK
We have a plethora of AR app development tools available in the market. You should consider the following parameters before choosing a suitable tool for your AR app development.
- Cost – Pricing plays a big role for obvious reasons. If you are venturing into AR development for the first time, then you should choose free and open-source AR SDKs. The paid SDKs do provide additional features but that comes with a price. To develop a scaled application with dynamic content, you may require a commercial license as well.
- Supported platforms – You will get numerous tools that support both Android and iOS platforms. Meanwhile, you may not get too many tools that are compatible with macOS or Windows. However, you can use a few AR development kits that support UWP (Universal Windows Platform) to build applications for windows smartphones or systems.
- Image recognition capabilities – This is a must-have feature for any AR app, as it allows it to identify images, places, and objects. You must select an AR development tool that can allow devices to use machine vision together with AI software and camera to track objects that could be overlayed with HTML content, sound, and animations.
- 3D image recognition and tracking – It is another must-have feature of any AR SDK. It helps an application to understand and improve the spaces around the app user inside of large premises such as shopping malls, bus stations, or airports. It enables applications to recognize 3D objects like cups, toys, boxes, cylinders, and many more.
- Unity support – It is an important parameter for any AR development app. Unity is unarguably the most powerful and prevalent game engine worldwide. It enables developers to create powerful effects while offering a cutting-edge experience to the customer.
- OpenSceneGraph support – It is an open-source 3D graphic toolkit (API), that has been used by developers to incorporate AR/VR, modeling, and scientific visualization into applications.
- GPS support – The geolocation feature is a must-have feature for your AR development app if you are planning to build a location-based AR application. GPS can be utilized to overlay data from nearby locations. For example, to find a nearby location, restaurant, or object.
Top 5 Tools for Developing AR Mobile Apps
In June 2017, Apple launched its own AR development kit, ARKit, while launching iOS11. ARKit enables developers to build AR experiences using the front or rear camera of their iOS device.
- 2D and 3D image detection and tracking;
- Can effectively track the user’s face;
- Enables you to match the virtual objects to the lighting of the environment;
- Allows easy Integration with 3rd party tools like Unreal Engine and Unity;
Supported Platforms: iOS 11 or newer
ARCore is developed and launched by Google. It supports AR app development for both iOS and Android platforms.
It uses innovative technologies such as lighting estimation, motion tracking, and environmental understanding to offer an exceptional AR experience to the end-user.
- Easily tracks the orientation and position of the device, which enables developers to accurately render the virtual content;
- Can be easily integrated with existing tools like Unreal and Unity;
- Can easily detect the location and size of numerous types of surfaces;
- Enables developers to match the lighting of the virtual objects with their surroundings.
Supported Platforms: iOS 11 or newer, Android 7.0 or newer, Unity for iOS and Android, and Unreal Engine.
Wikitude is among the most popular SDKs for developing cross-platform AR experiences. It is used to build AR apps and experiences for iOS, Android, Windows, and AR glasses.
- Optimized for HoloLens, Epson Moverio, and Vuzix AR glasses;
- Supports both local and cloud storage;
- Offers effective recognition and tracking of objects, images, and scenes;
- Comes with Geo AR, which offers brilliant location-based AR experiences to the users.
Supported Platforms: iOS, Android, and Windows.
Pricing: Free trial, Pro 3D (one-time payment not including SDK updates €2,490, yearly subscription including SDK updates €2,990), Cloud (yearly subscription €4,490), Enterprise package (custom, contact for info).
Vuforia is one of the most popular SDKs available in the market for building AR apps. It scores way above its competitors due to its multiple platform support capability.
- Recognizes images, text, and real objects;
- Supports both local and cloud storage;
- Offers VuMarks, which supports seamless tracking and identification for AR apps;
- Also offers Virtual Buttons.
Supported Platforms: Android, iOS, Unity, and Universal Windows Platform
Pricing: Basic plan (free with limited features), Premium plan and Cloud Plus (contact for info), Cloud add-on ($99 per month).
MAXST is another popular AR development toolkit. It comes with 2 SDKs, MAXST AR SDK 2D for image tracking, MAXST AR SDK 3D to track the environment.
- Supports Barcode and QR code scanning;
- Provides instant AR plane detection;
- Supports Unity plugin integration;
- Enables multi-target tracking and extended image tracking.
Supported platforms: iOS, Android, and Unity.
Pricing: Free version with limited features, Pro Version (one-time fee $699, monthly subscription $49.9/month), Enterprise version (contact for info).
Augmented reality has opened numerous avenues to enhance businesses’ service offerings and improve the customer experience exponentially. This is the right time to capitalize on the abilities of AR development tools to build a perfect AR application for your business.Guest Post
About the Guest Author(s)
Gaurav Sharma is a Digital Marketing Strategist at Arka Softwares, a leading mobile app development company. He has 4 years of experience in the Information Technology industry and AR technology. He spends his time reading about new trends in app development.