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ARKit vs. ARCore: The Battle for the Augmented Reality Market

Monday, 04 Sep 2017

ARKit vs. ARCore

Ever since Apple announced ARKit, a new framework that allows for creating augmented reality experiences for iPhones and iPads, back in June, the tech community started guessing what will be the answer from other big market players. And on August 29th, Google has finally reacted. They announced a new tool to match ARKit - AR Core - with an ambition to launch AR experiences on 100M devices, starting with Pixel, Pixel XL, and Samsung’s S8 (with 7.0 Nougat and above).

While both development kits are designed to produce pretty similar experiences, the software is still different. Our technology enthusiasts could not miss such an event, and today, we will be briefly looking at the features and capacities of both frameworks. Also, we will explore the marketing opportunities for both platforms, ARKit and ARCore comparison and the possible future for augmented reality technology. The race is on, let's begin.

Technologies & Features

ARCore utilizes three main technologies to bring virtual content to life. These are:

  • Motion Tracking that helps applications understands the position of the smartphone in space.
  • Environmental Recognition that allows Android devices to identify the flat objects in the area using the camera view and display the virtual ones on top of them under the right angle, for instance, a stage or a table.
  • Lighting Estimation technology helps the smartphone evaluate the current lighting quality.

Moreover, ARCore, as any AR technology uses real objects as anchors for virtual ones to ensure the stable performance whenever the user changes the pose.

ARCore is integrated not only with Android studio but also with mediators like Unreal Engine and Unity. You can also deploy augmented reality for the web using ARCore.

ARKit, on the other hand, also uses Lighting Estimation and Environmental Recognition (which they call “Scene Understanding”) to help iPhones and iPads detect the size and location of horizontal objects near the viewer and the extent of light accessible in a scene. Another interesting technology that ARKit introduces is Visual Inertial Odometry (VIO). This feature essentially does the same thing as Environmental Recognition, however, with greater accuracy and without any need to calibrate it. It recognizes the way the device moves within the environment, including speed, curve, angle, etc. using the device's sensors. ARKit is also integrated with third-party rendering engines such as Unity and Unreal Engine and claims to be extremely optimized to run smoothly on high-performance hardware.

ARKit

As we can see, the technology behind these two frameworks is pretty similar. However, in our personal opinion, ARKit is better optimized and prepared for the heavy loads of curious developers. Moreover, based on the demos released earlier this summer, ARKit seems to be much better in terms of graphics quality, which is another advantage that tilts the scales in their direction.

Documentation & Demos

On Apple's website, developers can download the beta versions of iOS11 and Xcode 9 that contain augmented reality SDK and try to build AR applications before the official release. Also, everyone has unlimited access to the detailed documentation that introduces ARKit and explains the fundamental concepts (what is AR technology, how it works, how to use it and build for it, how to place virtual objects, how to work with interactive content, etc.). Moreover, Apple professionals encourage developers to share their newly-built apps with the community and the world by offering an additional promotion to the most interesting applications.

Google's official website now contains the fundamental explanation of ARCore and an overview of the technology and its features. Also, it has detailed guides on how to get started building for AR on Android studio, Unreal Engine, Unity, and web platforms. The website also contains the link to downloading Google ARCore SDK.

Market Potential

Google might have a few advantages when entering the AR market, because they have been working with this technology for much longer. Even considering the great failure with Google Glass and the long road ahead for the Tango project, the company has had its finger in the AR pie for quite a while. However, with the iOS 11 release set for the next few days, ARKit seems to enter the market first, which gives Apple a huge benefit to bite off a bigger piece of the market.

Here, it is pretty hard to estimate which company will show the better results — only time will show the difference. ARKit will soon be available on many more devices since it also includes tablets, while ARCore is designed for the few of its Android brothers. While Apple and Google chose a similar, but yet a quite different approach, Apple may have a more successful start. But in a long-term perspective, Google's AR can grow bigger because the market share of Android devices is four times more than iOS.

ARKit vs. ARCore Conclusions

Both companies have chosen the right way to improve their software and integrated augmented reality SDKs into it, meaning the technology will be much more available to the mass audience. Google even took it one step further and is trying to popularize AR for web browsers.

The technology will hit the average users who download educational, communication, and gis applications (pretty much everyone except gamers). AR still has a lot of work to do to prove its existence over the gaming sector after everyone went crazy for Pokemon Go.

While Google was mainly focused on mobile VR at the beginning of the year, Apple worked hard to make AR a mainstream mobile technology, and it seems that the company has done much more work and promotion to let this happen. So, it appears to be that the killer app will likely hit iOS first, which will allow Apple to seize the market and set their own game rules and Google will have to catch up. Augmented reality had just begun – get some popcorn and make yourself comfortable - it will be a long ride.


 
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Stuart Lewis-Smith

GSN Games is completely satisfied with Program-Ace's technical expertise and the quality of services they provide. We look forward to collaborating with Program-Ace again...

 
Stuart Lewis-Smith, Senior VP and General Manager, GSN Games
Scott Zerby

Program-Ace has completely dispelled my concerns. The online project management system is one of the best I have seen...

 
– Scott Zerby, Vice President at ValuSoft
Tim Ransom

If you're looking for a professional, dedicated, digital development partner, I highly recommend Program-Ace...

 
– Tim Ransom, President at Visual Thunder Media
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