Apple’s new software is a game changer for augmented reality, experts say

Key Points
  • Apple is late to the game in announcing an augmented reality initiative.
  • But one developer says: "If Apple gets this right, they will own the hardware market for years to come."
A first look at Apple's new augmented reality app

One of Apple's new announcements has tech experts excited for augmented reality. One chief executive calls it a "game-changer."

Apple unveiled its new operating system for its iPhone and iPad products, the iOS 11, at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday.

The system also introduces ARKit, a new framework for developers to more easily build apps that use augmented reality: the tech that allows devices to display computer-generated images over the real world.

"By blending digital objects and information with the environment around you, augmented reality takes apps beyond the screen, freeing them to interact with the real world in entirely new ways," the tech giant said on its preview website.

An attendee demonstrates the ARKit, augmented reality tool, on an Apple Inc. iPad Pro during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, U.S., on Monday, June 5, 2017.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Virtual and augmented reality product company Marxent has been developing AR apps for Apple products for six years. The company's CEO and co-founder, Beck Besecker, called the announcement a "game changer" because it will help to embed the tech into everyday life.

"(This) could theoretically add a 4th dimension to how we experience the world," he told CNBC in an email comment.

"Once Apple starts integrating AR into the most popular apps, like email, texting, photos, maps and music, it will bring AR into our lives in a deep and meaningful way on a daily basis"

Geoff Blaber, VP research for Americas at CCS Insight, also praised ARKit, saying it will help developers to create engaging experiences in AR.

The field of augmented reality will benefit from Apple's scale overnight. Although Apple is theoretically late and behind initiatives such as Google's Tango, we expect ARKit will spur developers to embrace the technology more meaningfully," he said in a research note Tuesday.

Others already in the AR game include Facebook, Microsoft and Snapchat.

A first look at Apple's new augmented reality app

The key for Apple to be successful in the space is content, which the ARKit will help to develop, according to Besecker.

"No AR content, no interest. An ARKit developer framework that simplifies content creation and makes it easy and foolproof for developers to include AR features in existing iOS apps is huge," he said.

"You're talking about potentially 5+ million apps in the iOS store and hundreds of millions of devices that could incorporate AR within the next 2-3 years. If Apple gets this right, they will own the hardware market for years to come."

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