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AR in Consumer Apps: Enhancing User Experiences

June 25, 2023
5 Minutes
AR in Consumer Apps: Enhancing User Experiences

In recent years, augmented reality (AR) has emerged as a transformative technology, revolutionizing the way we interact with digital content and blurring the boundaries between the virtual and physical worlds. Among the emerging trends to watch for mobile app development, AR has been touted as one of the frontrunners to make the biggest impact.

AR Market Is Growing

The global AR and VR market was valued at USD 41.56 billion in 2022 and is expected to expand to around $859.35 billion by 2030, with a CAGR of 46.03% from 2022 to 2030. For developers, AR capabilities are becoming more accessible through tools like Apple's ARKit, Google's ARCore, and cross-platform options like Unity and Unreal Engine. While complexity remains, documentation and resources on best practices are helping lower the barrier to entry. 

Enhancing User Experiences

AR has revolutionized the gaming and entertainment industries, offering gamers and viewers alike an unprecedented level of immersion. Software developers are creating AR-based games that allow users to interact with virtual objects and characters in their real-world environment. A prime example of this was the very popular game Pokemon Go a few years ago. AR has also made great strides in the retail and e-commerce sectors. By overlaying virtual objects onto the physical world, consumers can try on virtual clothes, visualize furniture in their homes, or even preview how a new car would look in their driveway. Software developers are integrating AR features into shopping apps, providing users with a unique and interactive way to make informed purchase decisions. 

This is significant because the e-commerce market's estimated value was over $25 trillion in 2019. Despite that, there's still a significant drawback to shopping online, that is consumers can't physically assess and examine a product before purchasing it. Fortunately, AR can address this issue. Interactive apps can use AR to give consumers a better-rounded impression of a product. For example, the IKEA Place app lets users 'place' furniture in their homes with just their smartphones or tablets.

Another sector where AR has immense potential for transformation is education. By overlaying digital content onto textbooks or real-world objects, software developers can create interactive and immersive learning experiences. For example, students can explore the solar system by placing virtual planets on their desks, making the learning experience more engaging. These are just some of the ways in which AR can enhance user experiences.

Software Developer's Role in AR Development

To link back to the examples mentioned above, software developers make those experiences happen through the use of the following tools.

  • Product visualization - enabling users to view products in 3D at their actual size in their own space before buying. Virtual furniture apps were early leaders here, with sunglasses, beauty, and other retailers now following suit. 
  • Spatial mapping - rendering digital information, overlays, and interactions mapped onto real-world spaces. Games like Pokemon Go use this technique, as do navigation and social platforms that want users to discover the world around them in new ways.
  • Interactive learning - creating 3D animations, simulations, and other digital content mapped to physical books, worksheets, or lessons to help students learn and develop skills through an immersive experience. Early education and DIY/training apps stand to benefit most from this AR application. 
  • Connection - linking people in meaningful ways through geolocated messages, virtual objects, or shared views of a surrounding area. Social apps focused on connection and collaboration are leveraging AR to forge communities built around common interests and locations. An example of this is Meta and Zoom’s Horizon Workshops, which leverage AR and VR to enhance business meetings.    

In Conclusion

AR technology has opened up a world of possibilities for software developers to enhance user experiences in consumer apps. By leveraging AR's capabilities, they can create immersive and interactive digital experiences that captivate consumers across multiple industries. Whether that’s gaming and entertainment or retail, education, and travel, they can design transformative apps that stand apart. As the landscape continues to evolve, software developers will play a vital role in harnessing the potential of this technology to create compelling and user-centric experiences that leave a lasting impact on users.

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