How and when to include AR in your app’s features

If you are a mobile app developer, we can safely assume that you know the answer to the first part of the title: “How to include AR in your app’s features.” Regardless of the development camp, you belong to – iOS or Android – you have the AR tools necessary to start developing AR apps. Although AR apps have been around for a while, they have only recently gained momentum with the ARCore and ARKit 2 support available for building features on Android and iOS devices.

Focus on AR Features

But, building a great application is not only about incorporating the latest technology. It’s also about developing the right product. It’s about bridging the gap between user expectations and technological possibilities. Technology should augment the user experience, and that is important to keep in mind when developing AR apps.

Finding such balance is not easy, as so many short-lived popular apps have proven in the past. This is where the second part of the title comes into play: how do you know when to include an AR feature in your application?

Instead of creating an AR app and making it all about the technology, think about how to implement one or two AR features that can improve an already existing app or solve a known user problem in a new way. Don’t just apply the technology for novelty purposes.

Focus on Industries Ripe with Potential

As a general rule, there are no limits to AR. It can be applied to any industry, including design and architecture, real estate, healthcare, automotive and space industries, TV, media and advertising, music and film, and sports and education.

However, augmented reality is natural in some industries, and when it’s skillfully done, it’s a sure hit. Think of the gaming industry, for example, where immersing into an alternative reality is critical to making an application that will earn an enthusiastic following. You don’t need to go as far as to develop a new gaming idea. Adding AR features to a game app may breathe new life into it. A great example is Disney’s Star Wars: Jedi Challenges app, which is based on a movie classic delivered in a new package. Gaming is a billion-dollar industry, one of the few areas where paid apps can work just as well as free apps, so it definitely provides fertile ground for new AR features.

Social apps also offer great AR potential. Even if some AR communication features may seem goofy to you, people connect by sharing emotions. AR apps have the capacity to enhance the bland two-dimensionality of communicating on social apps and instantly excite users. Social AR apps can go a lot further than Snapchat if you find a way to implement the features in a clever way.

How about enhancing the shopping experience? Though online retail stores have enabled shopping in a jiffy from home, users’ closets still include undersized items in tacky colors and toys that looked a lot better online. AR has the potential to prevent such mishaps. Amazon has included AR features in its shopping app to help users learn what they’re getting for their money. Other large retailers have also followed suit.

If this trend takes over the retail industry, augmented reality can change the way we shop, and we will start relying on AR apps regularly to make purchasing decisions. As things stand at the moment, AR is poised to fundamentally change the shopping experience.

To develop a successful AR app, you need to think in terms of implementing augmented reality as a feature rather than as a holistic technology concept. Educate yourself about the possibilities of the AR software kits for the relevant OS – ARCore or ARKit 2 – and invest in industries ripe with potential that have already taken significant steps toward incorporating AR features.  

Written by Michael Kordvani