Discovering the best Augmented Reality app development tools is no mean feat. As AR becomes a 21st Century buzzword, more and more development studio packages are entering the market. So, how do you decide which Augmented Reality app creation software to use for your next project? Here's how:
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What You Need To Look For In An Augmented Reality App Creation Tool
There are several different factors you need to take into account when choosing which program you are going to use to create an Augmented Reality app.
- Supported Platforms (are you looking to port to iOS and Android devices? What about HMDs and smart glasses, or even Windows?)
- Licence (a free software is likely to contain watermarks or charge for publishing, and the deeper range of features on a commercially licensed software is also going to sway your decision)
- Geolocation (will your app need to be able to recognise where it is for your Augmented Reality features to work?)
- Unity support (Unity is the easiest way to create clean visuals and interface for your Augmented Reality app and so native support for this program through your software will be a big help)
- 3D Tracking (one of the most impressive features of Augmented Reality is making real-life objects the focal point of an AR experience. 3D tracking enables this.)
- SLAM (Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping - keeping a virtual object in the same space on the screen in relation to real objects is a seamless experience that not all development kits offer)
Which Tools Provide These Features
An open source software with an amazing amount of features, ARToolKit has been around for a while, but only recently caught the attention of large amounts of developers. With support for Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS on its side you’ll have all your handheld devices covered, as well as smart glasses and HMDs. The tool supports Unity, and while there’s no SLAM functionality ToolKit does utilise a video tracking algorithm to map the user’s specific point of view relative to the virtual and real-world objects around them. With no 3D recognition, however, application may be limited.
Wikitude is only offered on a commercial licence, however features everything you will need to create an Augmented Reality app. The platform supports Unity, as well as cloud recognition, 3D recognition, geolocation and SLAM with porting capabilities spanning Android, iOS, and smart glasses.
If you haven’t heard of ARKit yet, you’re in the wrong business. With the advent of iOS 11 and iPhone X, Apple rolled out their free Augmented Reality app creation tool ARKit. The open SDK allows devs to create AR experiences from their Apple devices for iOS platforms. With plans to make AR an integral part of the iPhone experience, Apple will be pushing these AR apps heavily in coming months. The development studio offers full Unity support, cloud recognition, 3D recognition, geolocation and SLAM, however must be created on an iOS device running an A9 or later processor.
Designed to be used by app creators of all skill levels, you don’t need to be a programming master to deal with EON Reality. In fact, you can get by with virtually no programming skills at all.
This is EON Reality’s USP, but don’t let that fool you, this is a packed out set of design features and fully integrated SDK. The dedicated AR and VR platform promotes royalty free publishing and can create Augmented Reality apps for all mobile devices, wearables and HMDs.
Kudan has risen in popularity over the past few months thanks to its KudanCV engine that ensures low memory usage of your application. With Unity support, 3D recognition, and SLAM Kudan is able to create Augmented Reality apps that recognise both 2D and 3D images. While there’s no smart glasses support, iOS and Android devices are incorporated into the platform. There’s currently no support, however, for geolocation. Kudan is available commercially, however there is also a free version which will contain watermarks.
Layar has situated itself in a unique position within the mobile AR industry. One of the first AR creation platforms created with mobile development in mind, Layar holds an impressive download rate across both iOS and Android devices. Brands can develop highly original AR experiences using both location-based and visual AR content. Though this is a paid tool, Layar boasts a range of price plans to suit every approach.
EasyAR does what it says on the tin. Create high quality Augmented Reality apps in this free and commercially licensed platform. The free version doesn’t skimp on features, however, which is what sets EasyAR out from the crowd. With cloud recognition, up to 1,000 on-device targets and the support of Android, iOS, UWP, and macOS platforms, EasyAR allows in-depth experimentation with the AR platform.
The paid version bags you a few more features, however, that make creating an Augmented Reality app a more seamless experience. SLAM, 3D tracking, and screen recording are available in the Pro version. The platform also supports Unity, however currently has no geolocation features.