iOS 11: Why developers are embracing Apple's ARKit

With a huge user base, the only problem for AR development will be developer skills: Udacity and Unity want to help.

Apple, iOS, iOS 11, AR, VR, ARKit, iPhone, iPhone 8, iPhone X

With hundreds of millions of iOS 11 devices now capable of running AR apps, Apple has created huge opportunity, but there just aren’t enough skilled developers. Udacity and Unity plan to help.

AR app development: What’s happening?

Udacity and Unity have introduced two new training schemes to help develop new generations of AR developer.

That’s important, given some analysts expect the VR/AR industry to be worth around $108 billion by 2021.

You can’t underestimate the potential of AR.

You see, while the mass market focus is on gaming applications, the truth is that industries, including healthcare, education, entertainment, real estate, and automotive,  can use AR to “fundamentally change” their relationships with their customers. IKEA’s Place app is a great example of this.

Squint your eyes a little, and you may also see an opportunity for theatrical expression in virtual space — music videos that let you virtually watch your act performing on your bedside table and beyond. And what about the huge potential impact for VR-based tech and product support? (Take a look at Chalk for a sense of this.)

The industry is also seeing some movement toward creating tools that empower consumers to create their own AR experiences. The idea here is to harness the ARKit toolkit and present it within engaging apps that, while being fun to use, empower people to stake their own claims in virtual space.

The problem facing AR app development

The challenge? Developers, developers, developers, of course — and victory for AR across the next couple of years will be defined by market share and by which platform on which developers choose to focus their initial efforts.

With an immediate potential audience of 400 million iOS users (and beyond), I imagine most developers will focus on ARKit above other platforms. Why not? It costs time and money to build great apps, and developers will go where the money is — if they have the skills. That’s where Unity and Udacity are stepping in.

"Augmented and virtual reality are the future — so much so that the most influential companies in technology are betting big on their potential. It's a great time for seasoned developers and newbies alike to sharpen their skills. We're proud to work with Udacity to help equip developers today with the skills to create the apps of tomorrow,” writes Jessica Lindl, global head of education at Unity Technologies.

AR and VR training for the rest of us

Developers can sign up for the Learn ARKit course for $200 in which they will learn how to build ARKit apps using Swift or Unity. They can also sign up for a three-part, six-month “VR Developer Nanodegree” course, which teaches cutting-edge VR development skills.

(Developers signing up for these courses may also want to take a quick look at the recently introduced Sketchfab AR library of 3D content.)

The introduction of the new training schemes shows an industry rapidly wising up to the possibilities that may be unlocked by ARKit, which is revealing new creative opportunity. Just wait 'till you see what’s coming from GDVInteractive, for example.

Think differently about that iPhone X Notch

Subject to price and availability, Apple’s iPhone X will soon become the world’s most high-end AR viewer. The usual critics have slammed its Notch (the space at the top of the device in which sits the technologies that drive FaceID), but they will eventually eat their words, as this excellent GIF suggests.

The practiced reality distortion team at Apple has once again accomplished something rather powerful. It has generated a growing forest of AR content, and by providing an extensive market, it has also motivated developer support all the way into the boardrooms at some of the world’s biggest enterprises.

The introduction of new training schemes, such as those from Udacity/Unity, confirms the achievement. 

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Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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