What that weird bump on the iPhone 8 means for enterprise users

AR is coming to the iPhone ... let's hope it is in September

News about the iPhone 8 and it’s weird design—one that features a strange vertical protrusion for the cameras on the upper left—spilled out today. In what looks like a fairly legitimate mock-up, there are two cameras next to each other, a sure sign that there will be some augmented reality (AR) on board.

AR has a better chance than VR in making a big splash in the enterprise. For starters, who wants to place VR goggles over your head during a conference call or meeting with the marketing team? It tends to isolate you, not to mention make you look like a cyborg. And, it's mostly a consumer endeavor.

With AR, you can use a phone normally and see call-outs on the screen. It works fast and is not cumbersome. Using an iPhone 8, you might point the device at a server in the data center and see the specs pop up. In a meeting, you could scan around the room and, using facial recognition, see the business title of everyone involved. While VR could help users learn how to install a part on an assembly line or attend a virtual training seminar, it’s really too immersive. Consumers don’t mind—you probably want to visit an alien world or go scuba diving in Florida. At work, not so much.

How will it all work? For starters, I don’t think it will be the HoloLens—at least for widespread adoption. That immersive device does have advantages—the overlays on top of a printer seem real. It’s a good start if we want to save on travel costs and pave the wave for immersive videoconferencing. Yet, HoloLens really has a major disadvantage in that it requires a lot of hardware.

How AR will succeed in the enterprise

AR will succeed at work if it is immediate and helpful. The business user will adopt the technology quickly if it works painlessly and provides real value. (By the way, my theory with VR and 3D technology is that it will work for business once you don’t need to wear any special goggles—something more like a hologram that pops up in any conference room.) We’re long past the novelty of seeing AR and VR; users want utility now.

And Apple needs a feature that pushes the envelope. Point the device at anything in the real world, and see pop-ups, audio annotations, and other overlays—that will sell the device. If it just has a better camera or new apps, we’re likely going to finally balk.

I could see the iPhone 8 with AR also enhancing our video calls. If I’m talking to my wife from a San Francisco hotel, I can share details about where I am at the time and what I’m doing. It could be the best travel app ever invented. The AR could also enhance every social media post, adding location details and object details in ways we’ve never seen before. “I just used my iPhone 8 to see the price of that new Ford truck on the road” or "That hotel has a great deal" could be really helpful.

Brands will, of course, partner with Apple on this.

It could be Pokemon Go times 10—a mix of the virtual and the real-world in ways only Apple could achieve. And, it will “just work” with the iPhone and iOS out of the box, not through some complex new apps. In business, what is easy and adds value creates fast adoption. It is coming...we’ll see if it’s in September.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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