Is Augmented Reality the Next Big Thing in Smartphone Technology?

When Pokémon Go was released, the world lost its mind and went totally crazy for the app. It became one of the downloaded and used apps of all time. The popular Pokémon franchise had some new life breathed into it and many were playing it to relive the old days of the hit cartoon series and also become what every child had wanted to become ever since they watched their first episode of Pokémon: A Pokémon Master. There have been countless Pokémon games, in fact the cartoon series was started as a way to promote the video games and trading card game.  These games have sold millions and are still currently among one of the most popular franchises. But it was Pokémon Go that made people feel like actual Pokémon Masters and feel as if though the Pokémon in front of them were actually real. This is hugely thanks to the unique Augmented Reality that the app offered at the time.

Augmented Reality had since taken a front seat on technology companies list of new developments they needed to work on and it seems now that we are first starting to see the fruit of that labor. Pokémon Go pushed an entire industry to work towards Augmented Reality. And now two of smartphone company’s giants, Google and Apple have both released resources for app developers and software developers to make Augmented Reality to work with and make AR apps.

Apple’s Augmented Reality: ARKit

Apple first announced and launched its Augmented Reality developer resources called ARKit to the world three months ago and we are already seeing what the technology is capable of. Apple uses software and software alone to make this Augmented Reality dream a possibility and no further additional hardware like sensors are required. So Augmented Reality related features will work on previous models of the iPhone, too. Up from the iPhone 6s, Apple has said that their AR apps will work theoretically without any problems, which is very good news for people with older models of the iPhone since they would not have to upgrade their phones to experience new technology.

Augmented Reality superimposes pictures, animations, characters, and graphics; anything you can think of over real life. Through the AR software the motion, distance and depth is calculated and then the image is superimposed over it. But it still has a long way to go. The ARKit only works on horizontal flat surfaces such as tables, floors etc. You can place or superimpose anything over a flat surface and it will appear without a hitch. But it still has trouble detecting curved surfaces, surfaces with odd shapes, and even vertical walls. It works well on shiny, glossy and reflective surfaces as well so there is no need to worry about that situation.

As of now, we only the back camera is usable in the ARKit so if you were planning to check out some Snapchat like filters on the front facing camera- you might have to wait a while. Apple might just possibly reveal front camera features with the iPhone 8. The ARKit is only usable with iOS 11 and onwards so if you are planning to use the AR apps and features you have to update your devices.

One augmented reality app to look out for is the ‘Walking Dead’ app. You’ll get to fight the hordes of the undead among the iconic characters from the show. A release date hasn’t been announced as of yet. It uses much of the same concepts as the Pokémon Go app but of course is less child friendly and bloodier.

Google’s Augmented Reality: ARCore

Google has already delved into the world of Augmented Reality with their Tango project. The Tango project was not exactly a success since it was very limited with how it worked. It needed special hardware and sensors to work and Google had paired up with a few phone companies such as Asus to release special Tango phones but now it seems that is a thing of the past.  According to some rumors, apps made specifically to utilize Tango will not work with the new Google AR. So we can think of Tango as done and dusted.

Google’s ARCore is a direct response to Apple. From what we have seen as of yet, both are technically on equal. Both work the same way and are in performance terms – equal. But their differences will become clearer once we have our hands on the new software itself. Google will have a slight advantage over Apple and all its devices since they have been working with Augmented Reality longer but Apple is not far behind either. According to leaks and rumors, the new iPhone 8 will have dual vertical cameras to help support augmented reality apps.

Googles AR is all software based too. It works on the basis of three basic components: motion tracking, environmental understanding and the third is light approximation. So using the example of Oz, the app Google has used to showcase their new ARCore, let us see how these three components work. In the Oz app you can have the Cowardly Lion come out and stand in the center. Motion tracking will allow the user to pin the lion and then walk around it. Environmental understanding will make it easier to detect flat surfaces and surfaces where the character might be placed. Light approximation will tell the app just how much light there is in the environment, so for example if you were to turn out the lights with the Cowardly Lion in the room h would react and be terrified.

Google aims to have its ARCore on 100 million devices in the near future. Although, it is still unclear which Android versions ARCore be functional on and just how well it runs but from what we have seen it is very impressive.

XNSPY

XNSPY will work with any and all versions of Android and iOS currently and in the future.

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