Apple vs Google: AR Kit vs AR Core

Apple vs Google: AR Kit vs AR Core

These two tech giants have finally gone head to head to battle for dominance in the augmented reality consumer sector.

2017 is proving to be an exciting year for augmented reality. The launch of AR Kit and AR Core has brought a long awaited and welcome breath of fresh air into the AR industry.

This release will mean little to those who don’t keep up with the world of augmented reality from a technical perspective, but essentially what we’re trying to say is that when two of the largest global tech firms (that combined make up over 99% of the mobile market) both heavily invest into augmented reality and release directly competing platforms in the space of under a year, it’s reason to get excited. AR is here to stay, and it’s about to become much more widely available and heavily integrated into our daily lives.

Understanding the Platforms

For those unaware, AR Kit and AR Core are both software development platforms released to make it easier for developers to create augmented reality apps for mobile devices without the need for a ‘target image’ (such as a printed image, face or recognisable object) to trigger the AR content.

When comparing the two development kits there are a lot of immediate similarities in functionality such as:

  • Both kits use motion tracking to pick up on recognisable points around an environment. This helps when positioning objects into a scene and being able to keep them locked and stabilised in a fixed position.
  • They use ‘environmental understanding’ to recognise surfaces such as floors, walls, table tops etc to enable objects to be placed onto.
  • The kits also both use light estimation technology to simulate light sources and shadows on and around the 3D objects.

 

From a first glance it appears that the two platforms display minimal differences, however it is too early to tell whether one has a clear advantage over the other as the quality of user experience will lay more in the actual apps that are going to be produced, rather than the platforms.

As promising as this all sounds the kits certainly aren’t without their drawbacks. Most notably in regards to AR Kit in the way that Apple are making their platform exclusively for use on iOS devices only, whereas AR Core is compatible with the Android operating system, meaning that the range of compatible AR Core compatible devices will become much wider as more powerful phones are released.

The other downsides include the fact that not all environments are going to be suitable for the technology, neither platform have built in occlusion (objects and surfaces between the device and floor are not understood) and the fact that this technology is very processor heavy, meaning you need a pretty powerful phone to be able to keep up. Currently the technology is only suitable for the very latest mobile devices, so the availability of applications made on these platforms is still limited for now – although it paints a promising picture for the future of AR in the mobile industry.

Our Thoughts

We’ve been experimenting with the platforms over the past few weeks and are finding that both work well in their own right. If we had to make a guess as to which platform is truly going to bring AR to the masses, at the moment our bet would be with Apple. This is not necessarily to say that their platform has a clear advantage technically, but this isn’t solely about innovation. It’s about how well these companies can popularise the technology and judging from what history has shown us, Apple have an incredible ability to popularise – probably better than any other tech company in the World.

Take a look at this short demonstration below of a proof of concept app we produced for Rosanna; an established Italian design brand creating high end kitchen furniture. The app works in allowing users to go to any environment be it showrooms, a new development or an existing kitchen and begin the process of designing and personalising the pieces. Tapping the screen opens doors, views contents and personalises the experience which creates the realism of having the furniture already installed.

When you’re spending six figures on a kitchen for life, it pays to have the most leading edge technology helping you to make the right choice.

Want to know more about our work with Rosanna? Read the case study here.