ARKit and ARCore – beyond the hype and what’s next for Wikitude


ARKit and ARCore are causing quite a stir in the augmented reality community. After Apple and Google launched their own AR development platforms, the internet has been sizzling with augmented reality inquiries and comparisons between the new software development kits (SDK). The buzz is loud. But, what lies beyond the hype? How are these platforms actually serving the AR apps that are in the market today? And also, what’s next for Wikitude?

Now that AR is on the radar, many want to jump on the bandwagon. But, before rushing into a project, it is crucial that the intended AR experience is perfectly aligned with the capabilities of the SDK of choice. Continue reading to fully understand what the tech giants are bringing to the table and how ARKit and ARCore will complement Wikitude’s technology.

AR features

Depending on the type of AR experience you want to create, different types of this technology might produce the best results. The most commonly used augmented reality technologies today are geo-location, marker-based (image recognition), markerless SLAM-based AR (instant tracking) and object recognition.

Scanning of Terracotta Warriors figures for Object Recognition (Wikitude) – The Franklin Institute

To better understand how each of the above-mentioned AR features work, refer to the first part of our augmented reality 101 series for detailed explanations and use-case examples.

ARKit, ARCore and Wikitude features

ARKit and ARCore offer good solid markerless AR. Period (yes, period). Thus far, the tech giants do not offer any other type of augmented reality possibilities except for what they call world-tracking (equivalent to Wikitude’s instant tracking, launched in February 2017).

In other words, with ARKit or ARCore you will be limited to creating AR experiences that are triggered by arbitrary environments only. At this point, you won’t be able to recognize and track an image (poster, billboard, magazine, etc.). You won’t be able to recognize and track an object (toys, statues, industrial machines, etc.). You won’t be able to trigger AR through geo-location (that means no Pokémon Go like games).

Despite supporting a single AR feature, one can’t deny how incredibly stable and robust the markerless tracking experiences are when using ARCore and ARKit. Both SDKs make the best out of their (high-end) hardware, software and research teams and by that delivering realistic AR experiences to users.

Augmentors game using Wikitude’s AR engine

Device compatibility

ARKit and ARCore are greatly contributing to making augmented reality more readily available, but as of now, both SDKs have a rather restricted device compatibility.

  • ARKit is only compatible with iPhone devices that use A9 or A10 chips, which, loosely speaking, represent iPhone 6s and iPad Pro 9.7 devices and above.
  • ARCore is only compatible with Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphones supported by Android 7.0 (Nougat) and Android 8 (Oreo).

Those devices represent a small fraction of what’s currently in people’s hands. With over two billion active Android devices in the world, Google’s plan to cover 100 million devices means ARCore will only reach 5 percent of its installed base in the long run. Same goes for ARKit-enabled apps, which, due to hardware limitations on older-generation devices, they run solely on the above-mentioned devices

Keep in mind, additionally, that neither of these two SKDs support eyewear. So, hands-free AR experiences with smartglasses are not possible.

Mira Prism powered by Wikitude

Cross-platform support

Even though this may seem obvious to some, it is important to clarify that ARKit and ARCore are not cross-platform APIs. Meaning that ARKit is designed to be deployed exclusively on iOS while ARCore is designed to be deployed exclusively on Android.

That being said, developers that wish to create mass-market consumer AR apps must either write and maintain separate programs for each platform or, alternatively, choose an “all-in-one” cross-platform SDK to write a single app which can be deployed on multiple operating systems and devices.

Development frameworks

As far as development goes, ARKit requires experience with Obj-C/Swift and ARCore, Java/Kotlin in case you don’t want to use some of the gaming 3D engines like Unity or Unreal. In a recent post, we shared the different development tools and extensions available to create augmented reality experiences.

Going beyond Android and iOS native APIs, building AR experiences can be easily done with JavaScript, Unity, PhoneGap and other frameworks. For that crowd, the double development using ARCore and ARKit might not be as straightforward as when using cross-platform frameworks (and certainly more time consuming).

What’s next for Wikitude’s “all-in-one” SDK?

Cutting to the chase: ARKit and ARCore is what’s next. Wikitude spreads AR by supporting a wide range of development frameworks and making cross-platform development easy when building marker-based and markerless AR experiences.

The integration of ARKit and ARCore in the Wikitude SDK will bring Apple and Google’s markerless technology to developers around the world with optimal performance for the high-end devices mentioned earlier. For non-optimized devices, Wikitude’s Instant Tracking will jump in and provide the same markerless experiences for the remaining users.

For those interested in augmented reality experiences that go beyond ARKit and ARCore, Wikitude’s technology can deliver geo-location, marker-based AR, and object recognition, with ample device coverage (smartphones, smartglasses and tablets) and multiple platform deployment (iOS, Android).

Furthermore, JavaScript developers will have a massive reason to celebrate: integrating Apple and Google’s technology into their app using the Wikitude SDK. Cordova, Xamarin, Titanium and Unity will be equally covered. This means Wikitude will extend ARKit and ARCore from 2 development frameworks to 7, making augmented reality truly accessible for a wider development community.

The integration of ARKit and ARCore into the Wikitude SDK has already started. Stay tuned for the official release on our blog.

We take pride in being an award-winning augmented reality technology provider and are here to help you make your AR project into a successful reality. Get started with augmented reality today, with the Wikitude SDK.

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