Apple is going all in with augmented reality, but the technology still has a ways to go before consumers adopt it fully, analysts say.
WWDC 2018 kicked off Monday with a slew of feature announcements ranging from asking Siri to find your keys to a 30-person FaceTime session, but one trend became abundantly clear—Apple wants to outpace Android for AR.
“Apple is continuing to pull ahead in the race against Android to develop quick and easy AR tools,” SuperData VP of strategy and XR Stephanie Llamas said in a statement. “They’ve moved fast on a new iteration of ARKit (less than a year) and are creating more value for iOS users in their ever-difficult endeavor of surpassing Android market share.”
During its annual keynote, Apple unveiled ARKit 2, a new version of its AR development platform that includes multiplayer support, updated image tracking and a spectator mode, allowing a user to watch others play from a separate iOS device.
Other features include item measurement and persistent AR will remember where a user left off—say, if they were putting together a virtual puzzle—so they can return and continue an experience at their leisure.
Apple has partnered with Fender to illustrate AR measurement tools, Pixar to develop a new file format for sharing AR content and Lego to bring their products into the virtual space. Shiny new features highlight the potential of such partnerships, but if Apple wants to use AR to attract new users.
“AR is just too new to be the reason for adoption, and despite a new version, iOS AR is still on the back-burner in terms of consumer interest,” said Llamas.
Social interaction, Llamas says, may be the key to overcoming hesitance from consumers when it comes to AR. In other words, Apple will need to offer interactive opportunities that users cannot already do beyond text messaging and video chat.
“One of the best ways AR can make its mark is by helping provide presence to users where distance holds them back,” said Llamas. “This has been one of the key ways VR has found success (e.g., Rec Room and VRChat) because XR users want to do things they can’t in reality, and playing Legos with friends from around the world is one of those things they can now do [in AR].”