Review of the latest Augmented Reality Apps being used in the day-to-day operation, their types, desirable characteristics, and platforms to build the best AR Apps:
Augmented reality is breaking ground in health, education, marketing, business sectors, as well as in government and non-government sectors alike, beyond its default application in the gaming and entertainment industries.
This tutorial looks at and compares the features of apps that use augmented reality to facilitate daily operations.
What You Will Learn:
- Augmented Reality Apps
- List Of Top Augmented Reality Apps For Android And iOS
- Top Platforms For Augmented Reality Apps
Augmented Reality Apps
We will consider the top 10 augmented reality apps covering different industrial sectors where they are applied in day-to-day lives. The most moving applications include health care, education, marketing, remote working, business, general enterprise, and gaming.
We will also consider the top 6 platforms on which augmented reality developers can build augmented reality applications with diverse features as they would like.
- More than 3.5 billion people (or 44% of the world population) will be using smartphone-based AR by 2022.
- 32% of users of AR have used it for shopping.
- ARKit-based AR apps have reached 13 million downloads, 6 months after the launch of the AR development platform by Apple.
The below image shows the ARKit downloads share of categories after 6 months of its launching:
- Select AR apps based on your industry and where to apply. Best applications include gaming, shopping, entertainment, lifestyle, production/maintenance, and utilities. Smartphone AR app should be a top-most priority.
- Choose a platform to develop the AR app based on the use of the app, customer demands, and features desired. Other aspects to consider include the cost and availability of expertise. Platforms to develop apps are few and some are free while others are paid.
- 3D recognition and tracking, SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) support, location recognition, image recognition, GPS-ability, interoperability, and ability to integrate and extend are some of the best features to consider when designing an AR app.
Types Of AR Apps
#1) Marker-based AR Apps
These use image recognition technology where they rely on black and white markers to overlay and display AR content over the user’s real-life environments.
The below image is an example of a Marker-based AR app on a smartphone:
#2) Location-based AR Apps
They work without markers and use GPS, accelerometer, or digital compass to detect the location/position of the user and then overlay digital data on real physical places. They contain additional features, allowing them to send the user notification about newly available AR content based on their location.
For example, the best markets around. In the below image, a Location-based AR app provides suggestions on nearby facilities on a user’s mobile phone:
#3) Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS)
This is a location-based and tech-based app that works based on technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ultra-Wideband UWB, and other Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID). These platforms are used in fleet traction, navigation, inventory and asset tracking, personnel tracking, network security, and other kinds of applications.
AR Apps Top Characteristics
Enlisted below are the top characteristics that are to be considered when selecting/building AR Apps:
#1) 3D recognition and tracking
The app can detect and understand the spaces around the user to customize them, including recognizing 3D objects such as boxes, cups, cylinders, and toys, etc. It can recognize airports, bus stations, shopping malls, etc.
#2) GPS support–geolocation
This is for location-based and location-sensitive AR apps to enable them to detect and identify real-world locations of the user.
#3) Simultaneous Localization and Mapping or SLAM support
This ability allows any apps to use augmented reality to map the environment where an object or user is located and to track all their movements. The app can remember the physical position of objects, place virtual objects relating to respect to the positions, and track all movements of the real-world objects.
This technology enables people to use the app in-doors, as GPS is available for outdoor use.
#4) Cloud and local storage support
You get to decide whether your data will be stored locally on the user’s device or cloud or both. Cloud data storage is mainly beneficial for apps requiring many markers due to storage limitations. Some development kits support thousands, while others only hundreds of markers.
#5) Supports many different platforms
No matter what apps use augmented reality, support on multiple platforms including Windows, iOS, Android, Linux, and others is important.
#6) Image recognition
A must-have app that will identify images, objects, and places. Some technologies used include machine vision, artificial intelligence, and camera technologies. The tracked images are over-laid with animations.
#7) Interoperability with other development kits
Some development kits such as ARCore integrate with or support traditional design tools such as Unity and OpenSceneGraph kits to extend the functionality of apps.
List Of Top Augmented Reality Apps For Android And iOS
Here is the list of popular AR Apps being used:
- IKEA Place
- Pokemon Go
- Medical Realities
- Lens Studio
- Giphy World
Comparison Of Best AR Apps
|Name of app||Category/industry||Features||Platform||Pricing/cost||Our Rating|
|IKEA Place||Home decor, Customer testing products before buying||•Drag and drop functionality.|
|Scope AR||Remote maintenance||•Live video transmission and chat.|
|Android, iOS, HoloLens, Windows, tablets.||$125 /month/user for corporates.|
|Augment||Retail, ecommerce, etc, |
Customer testing products before buying
|•Embed AR on websites and ecommerce platforms.|
•Upload AR content.
|Web, iOS, Android.||Starts at $10 per month for corporates.|
|ModiFace||Cosmetics, beauty||•Uses artificial intelligence to allow customers try on beauty makeups. |
•Photorealistic results through shade calibration.
|Pokemon Go||Social, entertainment, gaming||•Take pictures with Pokemon in your spaces and environment.|
•Create and trade items on the marketplace.
|Medical Realities||Health, medicine, training, augmented reality for education in medicine.||•View medical procedures and lessons with full simulations.|
•For medical assessments and training.
|Oculus, HoloLens, Windows, etc||Not public/ depends on use case.|
|Roar||Augmented reality for education, e-commerce, entertainment, etc||•Create and publish AR on web, iOS, and Android platforms.||iOS, Android, tablets.||$49 for those creating and hosting AR|
|UMake||Retail, e-commerce, designing.||•Import prototypes, export designs, pre-view how designed products look in real life.||Android, iOS||From $16 per month.|
|Lens Studio||Social, entertainment, business, gaming||•Use SnapChat camera to create experiences and edit them.|
•No need for code.
•Share AR on social media.
|HoloLens, Android, iOS, Windows.||Free|
|Giphy World||Entertainment, Game.||•Create, edit, and share AR on social media, email, and phone.||Android, iOS.||Free|
#1) IKEA Place
The below image describes how the IKEA Place app is being used to test furniture virtually on a customer’s home.
This home deco augmented reality app for Android and iOS lets you place virtual versions of home décor products on your home floors, spaces, and walls to test them and see which fits best – in size, shape, and design before you can buy or order at IKEA store.
- Not only you can use drag-and-drop functions to fit the virtual versions of products, but you can also try out different colors of the products. It works for Android and iOS.
Other among top/best-augmented reality apps for Android in this category include Houzz for iOS and Android, which also allows you to plan for and test furniture and home improvement products before buying on the Houzz store; Amikasa, which lets you style and try new layouts of your room before buying furniture or other items for kitchen, living room, or the kitchen.
In the below image, the Scope AR app is being used for remote maintenance.
ScopeAR’s Remote AR app allows maintenance staff or any other worker/person at the factory floors to receive AR-based video image instructions, text-based and other annotations, chat, and general instruction from an expert, remotely, without requiring the experts to travel and do the maintenance themselves. It was demoed in CES 2014 and launched in 2015.
- With the app, the expert can address the issue, live through linked devices, and advise the worker on the factory floor on what to do.
- Instructions and collaborations through annotations to mark areas with issues or which deserve attention. Also, it is among the best android apps for Android and iOS.
- The video-calling option is also available.
- It now works for Android, tablets, iOS, and HoloLens.
- The company’s WorkLink platform allows companies to create custom AR instructions and content.
If you want to delve into finding more remote assistance AR apps, you could check out Atheer, Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Remote Assist app, Lenovo’s ThinkReality, Upskill, Ubimax xAssist, VistaFinder MX, Help Lightning, Streem, Techsee, Vuforia, and Epson’s Moverio Assist
Pricing: Free for individual users; $125 /month/user for corporates.
By simple definition, this Android and iOS app allows users to capture using the camera or upload 3D versions of any product and display them in a virtual environment.
- It can be used in retail and e-commerce where customers can try out products in virtual 3D versions before buying or ordering, architecture, for instance, to build virtual 3D house design and model representations, product presentations by simulating a product in a customer’s environment, interactive print campaigns, and other purposes.
- With the Augment SDK, you can embed AR product visualizations on your website or e-commerce platforms for customers to find them, try them on their spaces, and shop.
Pricing: Starting at $10 per month for corporates.
ModiFace is an app on which you can use the smartphone to scan your face, then virtually, in real-time, apply the beauty product you target on your face as if you are wearing it. With ModiFace, you can simulate how do your makeup, hair and skin product, and other kinds of beauty products will look on you.
- The app uses artificial intelligence technology to help you try beauty cosmetics and makeup virtually before buying.
- It uses shade calibration to deliver photo-realistic results by scanning and analyzing information related to a given make-up shade.
- The information generated through AI is derived from the information submitted by beauty and make-up brands who add their content via the ModiFace software development kit.
Other beauty apps using AR include YouCam, FaceCake, ShadeScout, the Ink Hunter for Android and iOS, which lets you try out tattoos including different designs, custom designs, different orientations, and where to place the tattoos on your body.
#5) Pokemon Go
Pokemon Go is an Android and iOS AR app that allows you to mark your real-world location using your phone’s GPS and move your in-game avatar as your phone camera shows Pokemon in the real world. It can take photos next to Pokemon or capture or collect the Pokemons by throwing balls at them.
- Currently, you can overlay more than one Pokemons on the real-world and even play live player-versus-player battles on the same AR scene collecting Pokemons with other players who are using their phones at a different location, do raids, and even trade items on the app.
Aside from Pokemons, the Knightfall AR Android and iOS app that places you as the game character on a battlefield called Knights Templar to defend Acre from enemy warriors. You get gold for killing enemies by shooting at them as they advance to your walls.
The Ingress Prime is a sci-fi-based AR multiplayer game for Android and iOS, on which players fight to control virtual territories against other groups of players. Other AR games are Zombies GO and Genesis AR.
Website: Pokemon Go
#6) Medical Realities
The below image depicts the application of augmented reality in medical training.
Medical Realities app uses VR and AR for medical training using gamified learning.
- Trainees can view medical procedures and lessons, full medical procedure simulations, instructions, and videos, using Oculus and other VR devices.
- It is used in hospitals in real-life scenarios, and in medical colleges for assessment and in delivery of training in diploma and other leveled medical courses.
In diagnosis, AR apps include Orca Health’s EyeDecide for eye diagnosis, Accuvein, Augmedix, and SentiAR for holographic based interventions. We also have BioFlightVR, Echopixel, Vipaar, and Proximie remote surgery assistance apps.
Pricing: Not made public. Pricing depends on the use case as per the company website.
Website: Medical Realities
Roar AR content management platform allows you to build and publish any AR experiences for your customers, students, or friends in a matter of minutes, by overlaying the real-world with virtual objects including sound, video, animations, models, games, etc. You can publish on the web, iOS, or Android platforms.
- As a retailer or e-commerce person, you can create AR experiences for your customers and publish them on different platforms, all with the benefits of engagement-tracking and analytics.
- As an augmented reality for education, educators can gamify learning and embed them on different apps and places for their students. Marketers can create AR versions of their digital products to improve customer immersion in promotions.
- Marketers can create interactive digital versions of cars and other products for their customers.
Pricing: $49 for those creating and hosting AR.
uMake is one of the best AR design tools or apps because it allows you to not only build product models using available objects but to also draw or sketch with a pencil.
- You can view how your designed items look in the real-world or rather overlay them onto your spaces and rooms, in AR, import prototypes pre-loaded in your account, and even export designs into videos in different formats.
- Wireframe allows you to prototype designs, find designs of other people and remix them, and share AR experiences with others.
Pricing: Starting from $16 per month.
Other apps include video editor Waazy that allows you to add AR effects to your video, and painters such as Lightspace, World Brush, and Super paint. AR Ruler Android app lets you measure real distances, volumes, angles, and areas between real-world objects and to display the measurements. You can also choose to create room plans using these measurements.
If you are more into sketching projects, you could check SketchAR.
#9) Lens Studio
The below image shows SnapChat’s Lens Studio.
The Lens Studio is a Windows AR studio platform for those who want to create AR experiences for Snapchat, for whatever reason – entertainment, business, or organizational needs.
- You can create experiences by capturing your environments with the camera on Snapchat and by editing them, uploading content and models to edit, using behavioral script editors without writing code, choosing pre-made items and editing them with an in-house editor; and even share AR experiences on your social media and different iOS and Android platforms.
- You can create ads and all kinds of content with this.
Website: Lens Studio
#10) Giphy World
Giphy AR app allows you to take photos and videos of real-world scenes using your device camera, and to edit them by overlaying GIFs and stickers.
Besides creating and editing, the tool allows its users to share these on social media and email or phone.
Website: Giphy World
Top Platforms For Augmented Reality Apps
Enlisted below are the top 7 platforms for making the best AR apps – AR App Developer Tools.
=> Hand-on Video: How to create an Augmented Reality App
The top reasons you might want to come up with an app are business, purposes of branding, or for your customers, for the audience when marketing your products, for students in a learning environment, for entertainment, and many others.
Most of these platforms will help you to make AR apps for smartphones.
Vuforia hands-on Video:
Vuforia platform offers Vuforia Engine, Studio, and Chalk.
- You can create marker-based and marker-less augmented reality apps for Android and iOS augmented reality apps.
- Ability to 3D add content on horizontal surfaces like tables by users.
- Ability to capture/take scenes using a mobile phone, and tablet cameras.
- The ability for facial recognition and cloud hosting.
Pricing: There is a free version. Price ranges from $99 per month to $499 for a one time license.
Wikitude hands-on Video:
Wikitude can be used to develop AR apps for Android, iOS, Smart Glasses, etc.
- Apps with the ability for user and object tracking, geolocation, cloud-recognition, and distance-based scaling features.
Pricing: Costs between 2490 – 4490 pounds per year per app.
ARKit hands-on Video:
ARKit is a choice platform when developing augmented reality apps for iOS and other Apple devices.
- The platform uses object, environment, and user detection and identification method that leverage camera sensor data and additional data from accelerometer and gyroscope, and other devices.
- Apps will also have motion and position and face tracking ability, and different rendering effects.
Pricing: It is free to use.
ARCore hands-on Video:
ARCore is a choice platform for Android AR app development and is one of the top platforms for developing the best android apps for Android.
- It gives apps the ability to face tracking and motion tracking.
- Apps will have the ability for surface detection and light estimation.
- Additional features include augmented images with custom responses to specific types of 2D shapes and objects.
- Multiplayer where 3D content can be played on different devices simultaneously.
- Compatibility with Vuforia and pairing with Unity.
Pricing: It is free to use.
ARToolKit hands-on Video:
ARToolKit was first released in 1999, and apart from developing AR apps for Android and iOS, it can develop AR apps for Windows, Linux, and OS X. Also, it is a top choice for developing the best android apps for Android.
- It comes with several plugins for those who want to develop apps for Unity and OpenSceneGraph.
- The ability for tracking planar images and simple black squares.
- Easy camera calibration.
- Real-time speed support.
- Natural feature marker generation.
Pricing: It is free to use.
Maxst hands-on Video:
Maxst implements a 2D development kit for image tracking and a 3D development kit for environment recognition.
- It supports Unity.
- It develops apps for Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac OS.
- With its SLAM technology, apps can map the user’s environments and save them for future uses, save and later render images created with the SLAM technology, perform QR and barcode scanning, perform image tracking and multi-target tracking for up to 3 images and for as far as the camera can see, and track and place digital objects relating to the plane.
Pricing: There is a free version, but the Pro versions cost between $499 and $599 per year.
How To Play AR Apps
In this section, we will see how to play AR apps on Smartphones, AR Emulators, and AR Headsets.
To install and play augmented reality apps for Android built on the ARCore platform, the smartphone must support ARCore or be AR capable.
You must be able to install the ARCore app from Google Play Store (now known as Google Play Services for AR) and have iOS 11.0 and above for Apple devices that support iOS ARKit.
ARCore app works for Android 7 or Android 8 (for some devices) and above, otherwise, those that support AR these days come with the apps pre-installed as part of factory apps. So you should be able to check if your phone accepts these apps if it doesn’t chances are it isn’t AR capable.
Second, the phone must have shipped with Google Play Store installed. The other thing you need is an Internet connection.
>> Click here to see the list of different smartphone models and model numbers that support the AR-based ARCore platform.
The list of iOS AR capable mobile phones that support ARKit are fewer currently, but they need to be running iOS 11.0 and above, and with an A9 processor or later. They include iPhone SE (second-gen.) – iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, iPhone XS, XS Max, XR, X, iPhone 8, 8 Plus, iPhone 7, 7 Plus, iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, iPhone SE.
#2) AR emulators
The below image shows some extended controls on an emulator software.
Android emulators on PC include BlueStacks and NoxPlayer, but there is the Android Studio and Android Emulator. They should be your to-go apps if you want augmented reality apps for Android by using them to first emulating any Android.
- Download and install the Android Studio 3.1 and Android Emulator 27.2.9 on your PC. You will need an x86-based Android Emulator to create an Android Virtual Device from Android Studio, as per the instructions on this page. This setting on the Android Virtual Device Manager allows you to emulate by creating your desired virtual phone hardware profile for the phone you need to emulate on the PC.
- Once the setting is done, search for your app from the Stores and run it in the emulator.
=> Click here for more information on Android Emulators.
- Install Google Play Services for AR on the emulator on the PC, then sign in with your Google account.
- Search from the Emulator’s Google Play Store, the Google Play Store for AR, and install it normally. Install and open the augmented reality app for Android, normally.
- When connected to ARCore, control the emulated phone’s camera using the controls on the shown overlay. From here, you can take images with the camera and add virtual ones as overlays to the scenes.
#3) AR emulators for iOS and other platforms
To play iPhone augmented reality apps on iOS, see AR emulators that allow you to emulate iOS devices for PC – even over the web. For instance, Smartface emulators allow you to emulate up to iOS 13 devices, and can therefore run iPhone augmented reality apps.
#4) How to use AR apps with AR headsets
Most AR headsets use gaze, gestures, and other methods to allow you to install, uninstall, and select apps from their stores to play them.
Microsoft HoloLens 2 being used for AR in the image below.
This tutorial discusses the top augmented reality apps for different platforms, how to play AR apps on iOS, Android, and emulators, and how to play these apps on AR headsets such as HoloLens.
We explored the apps that use augmented reality and found that the best AR apps are those with real-world applications in health, gaming, education, training, and others. Also, the best AR-on-the-go is on apps based on smartphones and portable AR headsets.
Suggested reading =>> Best Virtual Reality Headsets