What’s AR’s state of the union today? ARkit and ARCore will democratize AR development, but what’s being built so far? and what can we expect in the coming months? These were topics of a recent TechCrunch Disrupt panel (video below).
One of the things we’ll surely see — and are already seeing — is early apps that miss the mark and don’t apply native thinking. These will be the “fart apps of AR,” referring to the early days of iOS apps when there were a spate of apps that featured touch-enabled fart sounds on command.
“As far as AR apps and consumer-based products, I think you’re going to see a lot of crap over the next year or two,” said Niantic CTO Phil Keslin during the panel. “But you’ll see some nuggets of creative genuine things that will spark something that will truly be amazing.”
The reason this is important is to not miss the unique opportunities that AR offers. It has the potential to create truly novel search, discovery and social use cases that no one has even thought of yet. But before we see AR find that native footing, there will be lots of misfires.
“In 2007 when Apple launched the iPhone, most of the apps were flashlights,” said Escher Reality CTO Diana Hu at TechCrunch Disrupt. “People didn’t know what to do yet. And there’s going to be this phase of learning. There’s a genesis of any technology when people need to experiment.”
Another example is the “habit creep” that shoehorns existing formats into new technology. We often see this in technological revolutions such as early television ads that adopted a radio format. In AR development, we’ll see this with the habitual reliance on rectangular screens.
“I think people need to start thinking differently about how their apps are made and the UX is going to completely change,” said Founders Fund’s Cyan Bannister during the panel. “A lot of the demos I’m seeing are a facsimile of your computer screen in front of you in AR.”
Relying again on historical analysis, the native opportunity is perhaps best characterized by looking at successful mobile apps. And there, we see the most notable examples, such as Uber, carry a common trait: they each wouldn’t have worked on a previous form factor, such as PCs.
“You couldn’t make an Uber style app when it was on a PC,” said Escher Reality CEO Ross Finman. “It only made sense after a mobile platform came out. Now it’s about understanding what are the new things you can do with the mobile platform for AR.”
Disclosure: ARtillry has no financial stake in the companies mentioned in this post, nor received payment for its production. Disclosure and ethics policy can be seen here.
Header image credit: TechCrunch