What it is: Since releasing ARKit at their developer’s conference, third-parties have created numerous augmented reality apps.
Compare the iPhone to rival phones from Samsung and other companies. Physically the components are very similar and they both work nearly identically that there’s little difference between the two of them. What is different is that iOS is less fragmented than Android because Android device makers have no incentive to allow upgrades since they only make money when people buy new devices. Therefore testing upgrades costs manufacturers money so why lose money to keep people from buying new devices?
That’s the biggest flaw with Android. Otherwise Android and iOS offer nearly identical features, but this fall, iOS 11 will offer augmented reality and that will create a huge gulf between Android and iOS. In the above video, you can see how augmented reality can be used to measure distances. Another augmented reality app displays dance steps on the floor so you can watch and see where to put your own feet to learn how to dance.
Augmented reality isn’t just a hardware feature that Android device makers can buy to cram into their products and claim technical superiority. Instead, augmented reality requires coordination between hardware and software. The hardware needs to work with the software to optimize performance. That’s easy to dow with the iPhone and iOS but harder to do with Android because every Android device uses different components. Then there’s Google’s augmented reality project called Tango, which hasn’t gained as much interest as Apple’s ARKit. Despite Tango being released in 2014, few Android devices have the hardware specifications necessary to use augmented reality.
In contrast, the iPhone 7 and up and the iPad Pro and up will be capable of using augmented reality. Once people see the advantages of augmented reality, they’ll also see the advantages of the iPhone and iPad over Android devices. how long will it take Android to catch up and offer similar augmented reality features? Maybe a year, but during that year, how many people will switch from Android to the iPhone and never go back?
Even if Google increases the features of Tango, it will still be behind Apple’s ARKit so it’s like running a race where the competitor already has a head start. Can Google catch up to Apple in augmented reality? Eventually, but Apple will forever cement themselves as the pioneer and leader in augmented reality. Just as developers target iOS first and then Android, so will developers target ARKit first before porting augmented reality apps to Tango and Android.
Augmented reality will be the difference between Android and iOS. Developers are already showing the capabilities of augmented reality and this will only increase as time goes on. Meanwhile, Google must improve Tango while hardware manufacturers like Samsung must make sure their hardware can run augmented reality apps.
Augmented reality will separate iOS from Android as much as the iPhone separated itself from Blackberry and Nokia smartphones. Be ready to see the iPhone become the standard for augmented reality. It’s coming this fall and will likely catch the Android by surprise despite the advance notice of seeing ARKit demonstrated by Apple.
The next smartphone you buy will have to offer augmented reality just as nobody would buy a smartphone today that can’t access the Internet or take pictures. Augmented reality is the new smartphone feature and for the immediate future, only the iPhone(and iPad) will have it.