9 Best Frameworks for Developing Augmented Reality Apps
Augmented Reality is one of the emerging markets in technology with an estimated market cap of USD 165.32 billion in 2022. You might be fascinated by the explosion of Pokemon Go which generated more than $1.8 billion in terms of revenue worldwide and planning to build your own AR App.
There are many platforms available for development and choosing the correct one might be an issue. This article will present you with the options available and our preferred choices. The choice might be a bit personal, but I will give you the factors that can make your choice worth the investment.
So let’s start with the list of development kits which you can choose from:
Unity3D is undoubtedly the most popular game development engine to date. Whether you are an indie developer or a full-scale development company, Unity3D has the solution for you.
Unity3D is synonymous with game development but that not the case. It has an entire solution for Mobile AR and Cinematic VR.
Unity3D also comes with an Asset Store and also has a marketplace for scripts. So using Unity, you can even build a functional App without coding a single line!
Interestingly, most of the SDKs, listed in this article, also support or have plugins for Unity3D.
From games like Star Trek to Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon, Unreal Engine has been the backbone of many popular game franchises. It is only fitting that they would be extended for Augmented Reality games and experiences as well. So they have done exactly that.
Just like Unity3d, you can buy assets, environments, and blueprints (scripts). This greatly reduces your asset production needs and also the programming. You can still use Maya and 3D Max for asset creations and import assets. Or you can just purchase from the Unreal store.
Unreal also has one of the most extensive documentation for AR experiences, which you can explore here.
ARKit is Apple’s in-house framework for developing and deploying AR apps on iOS devices.
They acquired an AR development company ‘Matario’ which had demonstrated experience in developing APIs for AR apps.
ARKit uses the iPhone’s camera for creating visual AR experiences and it can be regarded similar to Google’s defunct Project Tango but it is less taxing. Popular apps developed using ARKit include Smash Tanks, Giphy World and more.
Google ARCore is the successor of Project Tango and you can use it for both Android and iOS for cross-platform development.
With a vast selection of APIs which can be integrated with Unity3D, Java, Android NDK, Unreal Engine, and many others, ARCore is the complete toolkit for developing for multiple platforms using a single code base.
Vuforia is another popular SDK for developing industrial or enterprise AR applications.
It has a variety of target types such as Image targets or an addressable Fiducial Marker and more.
Its API is available for development in C++, Java, and Objective-C++.
This is probably one of the most extensive AR development kits which come with cloud integration and an in-house studio for deployment.
Wikitude was the first to use a location-based approach for app development and was awarded the best development tool award of 2017.
This is a completely free alternative to Vuforia and can be used for cross-platform development on Android, iOS, Windows and more.
EasyAR features Planar Image tracking, 3D Object Tracking with cloud integration for shared experiences. They also offer a smart glass solution.
Their solution is being used by KFC, PepsiCo, Vogue, and many other popular brands.
Kudan in partnership with xlSoft offers an SDK for development of marker AR apps or markerless AR apps.
The SDK is free for download for indie developers but there are licenses for small to medium scale businesses
Nippon’s 24 Hour Television Mixed Reality app was made using Kudan AR.
This is one of the oldest AR development suites dating back to 1999 and was initially released by the University of Washington.
ARToolkit+ brings in OpenCV support, OpenGL ES2.X support, integration with GPS and compass, and automatic camera calibration utilities as well as Unity3D integration.
I would always choose platforms like Unity3D or Unreal for building my AR experiences. The reason is the extensive availability of documentation, tutorial, and resources (developers) to work with. With integrated Asset Stores and Scripts, these frameworks make it super easy to develop your AR apps in no time.
Remember, there are people who have built successful AR apps without even coding a single line. So, choose (or buy) smartly!