Augmented Reality 101: development tools and extensions for beginners
Wikitude is well known for supporting a wide range of development frameworks. Our SDK is constantly updated to meet the demands, needs, and wants of software developers worldwide. But for beginners, learning Augmented Reality can often be overwhelming.
With this in mind, we decided to shed some light on the matter, hoping to clarify a few basic AR concepts and tools, and give insights about the available development frameworks compatible with the Wikitude SDK. AR has never been more accessible, thanks to our Augmented Reality 101 guide for beginners.
First things first:
Software Development Kit (SDK)
An SDK is a set of tools, software, code samples, guides, technical documentation, libraries, processes, and everything needed to develop software applications for specific platforms. A go-to tool for Augmented Reality beginners and developers.
Computer Vision Engine (CV Engine)
Application Programming Interface (API)
Simply put, an API is an interface that allows two programs to communicate with each other following a set of commands, functions, objects, and protocols that developers can use to create software.
The Native API does not integrate a separate rendering engine, developers have full control and, therefore, maximum flexibility to use the rendering engine of their choice. This “tailor-made” characteristic, consequently, requires more advanced programming knowledge.
You can have a complete overview of which features are included in each of the Wikitude SDKs with this feature list.
Wikitude extensions and plugins
Unity is the sole plugin based on the Wikitude Native SDK and includes image recognition and tracking, SLAM, as well as a plugin API, which allows you to connect the Wikitude SDK to third-party libraries.
Unity is a cross-platform game engine and one of the world’s most popular platforms for mobile game development. Wikitude expanded its SDK to support Unity, and it quickly became very popular among our developer community.
On top of the Native API, the Unity plugin allows developers to integrate Wikitude’s computer vision engine into a game or application fully based on Unity.
This extension provides a very easy-to-use interface that allows developers to preview content and run their apps on both iOS, Android, and Windows using the same code base.
Since 2020, Wikitude is offering two Unity Editions: SDK Expert Edition (EE) and SDK Professional Edition (PE). Developers can use ARkit/ARCore’s positional tracking via SMART in PE and via AR Bridge feature in EE. The list covering the differences between EE and PE can be found here.
Unity is also a popular choice for games (and apps) with advanced graphics, which enables the development of highly realistic AR experiences on mobile. It has a very strong online developer community with several tutorials, forums, support channels, and rich documentation, which makes it an appealing option for developers interested in building AR experiences, such as the one below:
Other supported development frameworks based on Wikitude’s Cordova extension are PhoneGap, Intel® XDK HTML5, SAP Mobile Platform, and Telerik app builder.
Xamarin is for the lovers of C#. Acquired by Microsoft in 2016, this app development framework is particularly popular for its runtime environment, ease of use, and good performance.
The Wikitude Xamarin Component enables C# developers to embed an augmented reality view into their Xamarin project. One can create a fully-featured app with advanced augmented reality features, including image recognition and tracking.
Architecture of the Wikitude SDK
To better understand the architecture of the basic components which comprise Wikitude’s SDK, please refer to the overview below:
As shown above, Wikitude provides a wide selection of programming possibilities for our developers, including augmented reality for beginners. If you found this article helpful and are thinking about including an AR feature in your project, get inspired by the second part of our Augmented Reality 101 series for beginners, where we share an extensive list of real-world AR use cases.
If you are curious about the technical side of the most common types of AR technologies in use today, we recommend navigating through the first part of our Augmented Reality 101 for beginners series.
More posts from the AR 101 series:
To cut straight to the chase and get some hands-on action, download our powerful award-winning SDK right now to put it to the test!Download and start testing with the free trial