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Augmented Reality App Development: Extensive Guide [SDKs, MVP, Tech & Business Parts For 2021]

29 min read
Augmented reality is the technology that has been gaining traction over the past few years. We’ve seen a number of applications making billions in the market. Pokémon Go is a great example.
Augmented Reality App Development: Extensive Guide [SDKs, MVP, Tech & Business Parts For 2021]

The market of AR solutions is projected to grow from $7.6 billion in 2020 to 29.5 billion by 20025. This makes 31.1% of CAGR growth.

You are probably wondering how to make an augmented reality app or add such functionality to your application. This article is an exhaustive guide on augmented reality app development, covering all the points of the whole process.

Here is a quick sneak peek of what’s waiting for you inside:

  • How Addevice can help you build an augmented reality app
  • What AR is and how it’s different from VR
  • Key types of augmented reality apps
  • Augmented reality tools
  • Industries where AR can save the scene
  • Step-by-step guide for augmented reality mobile app development
  • AR development cost

Let’s uncover how to make an augmented reality app that will be a success in the future.

Addevice’s Experience in Augmented Reality Mobile App Development

Before we move on, let us tell you how Addevice can help you build an augmented reality app. This article is written based on our experience in augmented reality development. Our experts have successfully developed and released a number of AR applications with one of them being Fitle.
Addevice’s Experience in Augmented Reality App Development
Fitle is a smart shopping application revolutionizing the way consumers buy clothes. In the reality of COVID-19, Fitle offers a unique opportunity for a real-life-like shopping experience for online buyers. The application allows customers to try on clothes without visiting shops. The application uses the combination of a photo depth calculator and an augmented reality solution to compress photos into AR objects. The object is analyzed to determine exact body measurements and generate a 3D model. We combine the technology with high-security standards to create a safe environment for customers to try clothes on.

Do you want to discuss your AR app idea?

Get in touch with our team to talk about your solution. Our experts will help you define the best way to build an augmented reality app taking into account both technical and business parts.

What is Augmented Reality?

Before we uncover how to make an augmented reality app, let’s first get a better understanding of what augmented reality technology is.

Augmented reality can be seen as a link between “virtual” data and the real world. It must have the following three characteristics:

  • Combine the real world and virtual data in real time
  • Be interactive in real time (a change in the real plane entails an adjustment of the virtual data)
  • “See” the world around us in 3D (because we live in three-dimensional space)
How Augmented Reality Works
AR technology is already widely available to end-users. All they need to experience AR is a smartphone with a camera. Examples of such solutions are numerous, including Pokémon Go, IKEA Place, Sephora, and many others. Virtual reality is another technology that is often confused with augmented reality. While their concept might be similar, they are very different in nature. When we talk about AR solutions, 2D or 3D objects are projected into real environments. Virtual reality creates a virtual environment into which users can immerse with the help of VR headsets or glasses.
Augmented Reality App Development: Extensive Guide [SDKs, MVP, Tech & Business Parts For 2021]
We talk more about the work of different augmented reality applications based on their type in the next chapter.

Types of Augmented Reality Apps

Types of Augmented Reality Applications
Augmented reality app development can take a number of forms depending on the business goals you are pursuing with your application. Let’s take a look at the main types of AR solutions:

  • Marker-based augmented reality
  • Location-based augmented reality
  • Projection augmented reality
  • Superimposition based augmented reality

Below, we identify how they differ and which technologies are used to build each of them.

Marker-Based Augmented Reality App

This type of AR application is based on image recognition or image markers. Once the application detects an image or object that it can recognize, it overlays digital information on the marker. Such solutions can use 3D objects or non-3D objects, such as QR codes, as markers.

Location-Based Augmented Reality

Location-based AR solutions, also known as marker-less AR is the most widely used implementation of augmented reality. Instead of using markers, such apps use GPS, accelerators, compasses, and other location detectors to create AR objects based on the current location. Pokémon Go is a great example of this type of application.

Projection Augmented Reality

Applications of this type rely on visual odometry. They use complex algorithms and collect data from multiple sensors to identify the precise location of objects and to perform respective actions.  Projection AR can be used as a part of the car parking system since it can show objects that are hidden from built-in cameras. Architects and engineers can also use this technology to better study the environment for placing constructions.

Superimposition Based Augmented Reality

Applications relying on superimposition are used in healthcare and medicine. The technology is self-explaining. A real image of the environment is processed, recognized, and overlaid with an AR object.

Best Tools to Build Augmented Reality App: SDKs & Tech

SDKs and Tech for Augmented Reality App Development
It’s impossible to decide how to make an augmented reality app without knowing which technologies can be used for such a task. Augmented Reality software development SDKs is a set of tools that are designed to help developers to build augmented reality apps faster and without the development of the components already created by other companies. Let’s overview augmented reality development tools that your application can rely on.
To choose the best SDKs that will align with your business targets, you need to pay attention to the following factors:

  • native support for AR
  • the operating platform it’s targeting
  • the programming language in which it’s written
  • official SDK support
  • license and monetization
Knowing such details about SDKs, you will be able to choose the best solution that will not require you to pay a huge sum for use and which will not limit the augmented reality app development process.

Vuforia

Vuforia is one of the most popular augmented reality development SDKs that enable companies to deliver immersive AR experiences to their customers. Thanks to its API accessibility through Unity, Vuforia can be used to develop native apps for iOS and Android. It is also considered a complete SDK with rich feature set for AR applications.

  • Real-time identification and tracking of target images, English texts and 3D objects
  • Placing virtual objects such as 3D models in a real environment
  • Multipurpose 3D configurations
  • Vuforia Engine Area Targets with Area Target Generator
  • Scanned Model Targets
  • Advanced Model Targets – Multiple Model Detection
  • Continue working when paused applications
  • Simulation mode
  • Vuforia Engine Tracking Scale

Wikitude

Wikitude is used to develop mobile apps and AR prototypes. The new Wikitude SDK enables developers to implement geolocation capabilities as well as image tracking and object recognition. Some of its features include:

  • 3D recognition and tracking
  • Image recognition and tracking
  • Cloud recognition
  • Location-based AR
  • Video overlay
  • Smart glasses integration
  • Integration with external plugins

Kudan

Kudan is another universal AR SDK, its main features are described below:

  • Location and tracking requirements with and without markers
  • 2D and 3D Image recognition
  • Visual-SLAM
  • Fusion Sensor – sensor for detecting white light sources
  • Flexible integration
  • Universal setting
  • Unity SDK

EasyAR

EasyAR is a free AR development tool with support for major mobile platforms. Its SDK allows companies and developers to extend their AR immersion experience with mobile apps. Developers can use EasyAR features depending on the packages purchased:

  • EasyAR Basic: Developers can manage workflow, improve APIs, ensure interoperability, video playback, QR code scanning, and comprehensive integration.
  • EasyAR Pro: Developers can implement advanced features such as 3D object tracking, screen recording, simultaneous detection and tracking of multiple marker types.

Apple ARKit

ARKit can be used to create applications for both iPhone and iPad, which have an A9 processor or higher under the hood. It allows developers to design and develop applications that empower each user with a variety of features such as:

  • Detect and track 2D images
  • Recognizing and placing 3D objects
  • Horizontal and vertical plane detection
  • Face tracking
  • Stable and fast motion tracking
  • Scale calculation

Google ARCore

Google ARCore is one of the most popular SDKs for building apps for smartphones and tablets. Surprisingly, its AR apps are supported not only on Android but also on iOS devices, allowing cross-platform AR apps to be developed. ARCore is based on two elements: position tracking and object recognition. Some of its standout features include:

  • Real-time illumination assessment
  • Precise placement of virtual objects
  • Easy tracking to create realistic objects
  • Sizing and Locating Vertical, Horizontal, and Sloped Surfaces
  • Tracking movement according to the position of the phone
The table below displays the most popular and promising AR SDKs that you can use to build augmented reality apps.
  Vuforia Wikitude EasyAR Kudan Apple ARKit Google ARcore
Platforms Android, iOS, UWP Android, iOS Android, iOS, UWP, macOS Android, iOS, UWP iOS Android, iOS
License Free, Commercial Commercial Free, Commercial Free, Commercial Free Free
2D recognition + + + + + +
3D recognition + + + + +
Smart glasses support + + + +
Unity support + + + + + +
Geolocation + + + +
SLAM + + + + +
Cloud recognition + + + + +
Aside from SDKs, you will also need to use some standard technology for iOS or Android development, which is listed in the table below.
Android iOS
Programming languages Kotlin, Java Swift, Objective-C
SDK Android SDK iOS SDK
Toolkit Android Studio Apple Xcode

Want to build an augmented reality app that will use the latest technology?

Our team of experts has augmented reality app development know all the ins and out of using each of the technologies. Get in touch with the Addevice team for professional consultation.

How can augmented reality be used in industry?

Augmented reality technology is finding its way into various industries. On the image below you see the most promising use cases for AR technologies (according to data by Hackernoon).
chart created with amCharts | amCharts

AR technology offers interesting business solutions. Its use in industry and large enterprises is a matter of several years, but you need to think about its implementation now. Let’s figure out why.

  • eCommerce

The technology is already actively used in eCommerce and retail. Examples are numerous and include such applications as Fitle developed by Addevice, IKEA app, and even Loreal. The use of AR in eCommerce is already showing the power of its technology since it improves the shopping experience. The technology will probably gain even more traction in eCommerce with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Such apps can be used to help customers to try on clothes, make-up, see how furniture will look in their apartments, and much more.

You can learn more about application development for eCommerce in our exhaustive guide:

How to Make Online Selling App: Tech & Business Details (2021)
  • Healthcare

The use of artificial intelligence in healthcare and medicine has numerous implementations. Today, augmented reality tools for education are already actively used for students’ training, as well as during surgeries and other procedures. Microsoft HoloLens is used to provide doctors with detailed human anatomy understanding to perform better surgeries, tumor identification, blood flow visualization, etc.

  • Tourism and travel

Another sphere of use is traveling and tourism. Instead of reading history, tourists could live through historical events by visiting certain locations. 

  • Entertainment and games

Entertainment is the most promising industry for augmented reality app development. Such solutions can bring an entirely different experience by allowing users to interact with virtual objects in the real world. Pokémon Go is the brightest example of AR games, which over the years generated more than four billion in revenue. We are yet to see some other successful names that will outperform this game.

chart created with amCharts | amCharts
  • Education

If you are wondering how to make an augmented reality app that will make a difference, look into education. AR-powered solutions allow students to see virtual objects in the learning environment. One of the possible implementations is the use of special markers inside books that trigger the display of multimedia content.

  • Real estate and architecture

This is another industry that can benefit from the use of AR technology. With the help of such applications, specialists can see how their buildings will blend in with the environment and to showcase projects to clients and investors.

  • Military

The history of augmented reality application development for military purposes started in 1992 by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. Today, special goggles can be used, for example, to provide the military with data to help them with ground navigation  The number of industries that can benefit from the use of AR is numerous and we are going to see a lot of its technology implementations in the future.

How to Make an Augmented Reality App: Step-by-Step Guide

Augmented Reality App Development: Extensive Guide [SDKs, MVP, Tech & Business Parts For 2021]
So, how do you create an augmented reality application?
Here is an 8-step process to make an augmented reality app:

  1. Finding a niche and USP
  2. Business plan creation
  3. Finding an app development vendor
  4. Deciding on the app’s functionality
  5. UX/UI design creation
  6. Development
  7. Marketing and promotion
  8. Feedback gathering and planning for growth

Let’s learn how to make an augmented reality app in more detail.

1. Finding a Niche and USP

The first step of augmented reality app development is the vision creation for your future product. This is impossible without knowing your competition, market state, and which niches still have a place for new names. Your action plan can have the following steps:

  • Market research – find out about the local market and which applications are popular there.
  • Competitors research – learn who will become your competition, learn their strong and weak sides.
  • TA research – make a comprehensive analysis of your target audience, its demographics, interests, income, and so on.
  • USP creation – based on the collected data, decide which niche you will target and how your application will be different from the competition.

2. Business Plan Creation

After you identify how to make an augmented reality app that will be unique and meet user expectations, you need to create a comprehensive business plan. One of the steps is finding the right monetization model. Today, there are a few models that you can consider:

  • Subscription – users buy a subscription for your application. You can provide them with different payment options, such as monthly, quarterly, or yearly subscription payment.
  • Advertising – placement of advertisements inside your app can bring significant income. Ads blocking options can be provided at an extra payment.
  • Freemium – allow users to enjoy some features of your app for free and ask them to pay if they want to enjoy full functionality.

In case you decide to build an augmented reality app and make it free, check the guide explaining how such apps can make money:

How do Free Apps Make Money? [Best Strategies for 2021]
After you have decided on these matters, you can create a business model canvas to represent your value proposition, company infrastructure, customers, and finances.

3. Finding an App Development Vendor

The main secret behind successful apps is working with a reliable tech company that knows how to create an augmented reality app. Below you can find some steps explaining how to make the right choice, so make sure not to skip any of them:

  • Use such platforms as Clutch, The Manifest, and others to find a company providing augmented reality app development services.
  • Experience and professionalism should come first; price should come second.
  • Check clients reviews and shortlist companies
  • Analyze vendors, compare their expertise, location, etc.
  • Get in touch with shortlisted companies for an interview
  • Make a decision regarding your future technical partner

The image below demonstrates the process of finding such a company.

Augmented Reality App Development: Extensive Guide [SDKs, MVP, Tech & Business Parts For 2021]

If you need some help with finding your partner, check the article prepared by our team explaining the process step by step:

Outsource App Development in 2021: How to Make It Work

4. Choose App’s Functionality

This step is very important in augmented reality app development. Together with the vendor, choose the best functionality allowing you to build an augmented reality app according to your business needs. Aside from choosing SDKs and platforms, you might also need to implement some other features described in the table below.

Service APIs
Push notifications Twilio Nexmo Plivo Apple Push Notifications Firebase Cloud Messaging
Payments PayPal Stripe Braintree Apple Pay Google Pay
Navigation Google Maps Google Places Google Maps
Mailing services Gmail ZeroBounce Firebase Cloud Messaging SendGrid
Social media Google Facebook Twitter Instagram

5. UX/UI Design

Design creation is an inseparable part of the augmented reality apps development process. At this stage, together with designers, you will need to work on the user flows, branding, and unique style of your application. Just remember that a copycat solution won’t be able to have a high chance of success. Thus, you need to aim for unique features and their unique visual representation in augmented reality app design.

6. Augmented Reality App Development

This is the main part of the whole journey you are going to endure to create your application. During this stage, front-end and back-end parts of your solution are developed based on the produced design materials.  Each implemented feature and technical solution need to be thoroughly tested to avoid problems with the app’s performance, scalability, and reliability.

7. Marketing & Promotion

While the development process is underway, you can start working on your marketing strategy. The main goal here is to spark interest with your target audience by implementing the following marketing approaches:

  • Paid ads – will help you get the first users of your application.
  • SMM – social media is a place where you can create meaningful and trustworthy relationships with users.
  • Influencer marketing – working with bloggers and influencers to connect with multi-million audiences.
  • Content marketing & SEO – promotion of your AR application in Google search results through blog posts and other forms of content.
  • Events – you can promote your app at live events, conferences, and meetings or become a special sponsor for some event.
  • Partnerships – cooperate with other companies for the promotion of your solution through their marketing channels.

8. Feedback Gathering & Growth Planning

Once your application is released to the market, start collecting customer feedback to learn what they think about your application and how it can be improved. After you have a full picture of possible improvements, discuss with your development team how they can be implemented with future updates.

Augmented Reality App Development Cost

You are probably wondering about the cost to build an augmented reality app.

If you decide to pursue the idea of augmented reality app development, you need to be ready to invest it ranges from $5,000–$10,000+ for the creation of an app for a single platform (iOS or Android). The final cost depends on a number of factors such as how many platforms you are targeting, to which country you outsource app development, which SDKs and functionality you are going to implement. The cost can reach $500,000 and even go far beyond this sum.

Augmented reality content creation can eat up a significant part of your budget, especially if you are going to create and real-like environments. 

Need help with augmented reality app development and want to know its cost?

Get in touch with our team for free initial project estimation and quote. Our augmented reality app developers will help you choose the best technologies and build an app within your budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you create an augmented reality application?
The process of augmented reality app development can be organized into 8 steps:

  1. Finding a niche & USP
  2. Business plan creation
  3. Finding an app development company
  4. Choosing the app’s functionality
  5. UX/UI design
  6. Development
  7. Marketing & promotion
  8. Planning for growth

Please note that each of the above steps consists of different substeps. If you want to know how to make an augmented reality app, check our guide.

How much does it cost to build an augmented reality app?
Augmented reality app development cost starts at $60,000 for the first app version for a single operating platform (iOS or Android). With the addition of new functionality and new platform support, the cost will increase and can reach $500,000+. You might need to invest a significant sum into the creation of 3D scenes and objects, depending on their complexity.
How is augmented reality made?
Augmented reality is a technology that overlays real-world environments with digital augmentation. Users can see a combined image of a real scene with virtual objects on it.
What are the examples of successful AR implementation?
Pokémon Go is the most vivid example of AR implementation in the entertainment industry. Over four years of history, users spent over 4 billion dollars with this application. There are numerous other examples such as IKEA Place, Sephora, Amazon AR Player, and many others. AR technologies have already penetrated almost every industry and their use is predicted to grow in the near future.

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