Mainstream augmented reality is almost upon us, thanks to Apple ARKit. Developers are lining up around the block to take advantage of the technology and the mass market it brings.
If you’re not up on the latest news, ARKit is a toolkit for creating jaw-dropping AR experiences on existing hardware. Unlike Google Tango, which requires specialized devices, ARKit works on any device running iOS11 with an Apple A9 or A10 processor.
That takes us from the iPhone 6s through the iPhone 8 and beyond, as well as iPads released in the same period. To quote Tim Cook’s WWDC address, it’s huge.
So, you want to take advantage of this opportunity. If you’re not a developer yourself, then your best option is to outsource. In other words, hire ARKit developers to create an app according to your vision.
But how exactly do you go about that?
Here are some tips.
Understand Your Needs
Believe it or not, creating an app isn’t just a matter of breathlessly describing it to a developer and sending them off to work their magic. Even the simplest apps are complicated pieces of software engineering, requiring detailed specifications that cover every possible action and use case. They also invariably require updates and support after completion, sometimes for years.
Depending on your existing personnel and experience, you may already have a spec completed, and your own people on staff to provide support. You may even be positioned to create the app yourself.
However, many people only have a rough sketch of a great idea, without a real plan for execution. Luckily, modern development houses can wear multiple hats, offering everything from design to QA, and even marketing support.
Choosing the right developer means understanding exactly what you need them to do. A good developer can fill the gaps in your workflow wherever they may be. A great developer helps you determine where those gaps lie.
Check Their Portfolio
There is a gold rush in the VR and AR industries, and hundreds or even thousands of would-be developers are flocking to the arena.
For clients, this is a double-edged sword. The good news is you will have your pick of the very best designers and coders. The bad news is that you will run into plenty of underqualified ones, as well.
Because AR in general, and ARKit app development in particular, are new fields of work, it can be difficult to ensure that your developer can actually deliver on their promises. Choose developers that have real, proven experience in AR. That means apps on the market, and preferably a list of satisfied clients who will provide references.
Your ideal developer will have experience within your specific vertical. An indoor navigation app will have different needs than an app to enhance the retail experience. The exception is in game development, where experience can be applied to almost any other AR app, as detailed below.
A Gaming Background is a Strength
Augmented reality, even aided by ARKit, requires specialized skills and training. Unlike traditional mobile apps, which can be perfectly functional with simple 2D art, augmented reality calls for 3D graphics and spatial awareness.
What other software vertical relies heavily on manipulating complex graphics within a 3D space?
If you guessed “video games”, you’re correct. Boiled down, augmented reality takes 3D digital objects and places them within a real-world environment. From a development perspective, it’s not dissimilar from Mario bouncing around the Mushroom Kingdom.
To drive the point home, ARKit all but requires the use of the Unity or Unreal engines to create 3D objects. These engines were created for games, but ARKit gives them a multitude of real-world uses.
Even if you’re not hoping to create the next Pokémon GO, a developer savvy in mobile games is a major asset to your team.
Seek Out Agility
Agile is a software development methodology that is particularly suited to the complex, fast-paced world of mobile apps. AppReal has spoken about Agile before, but it’s particularly relevant in ARKit development.
Augmented reality is still a new field. New techniques, standards, and trends surface regularly. Even in traditional software and mobile apps, final products often deviate significantly from their original specs. In AR, it should be taken for granted that significant changes will be introduced before the project is complete.
Agile was made for this kind of volatile environment. It emphasizes flexibility, transparency, and iteration above all. A team operating under the Agile framework can show you a working prototype at any stage of the development process. Even more important, they can make changes without incurring major costs in time or money.
A Good ARKit Developer Has an Open Mind
It may seem cliché, but it’s more important than ever to choose a developer that shows real passion and creativity in their work. Again, augmented reality is new. ARKit is even newer.
It’s a sure thing that the greatest innovations in the field have yet to come, and they’re not going to come from developers who insist on doing everything by the book and sticking to the exact techniques that worked two years ago.
When interviewing developers, ask them to describe their favorite apps in your vertical. Ask them what’s exciting about ARKit. Try to get a sense of what makes them tick, and why they want to work on your project, beyond the paycheck.
Bonus points if what gets them excited is apps like yours.
A developer or team that truly enjoys their work and loves to create will always turn out a better product that one that is merely phoning it in to pay the bills. Augmented reality is exciting stuff, and it is not asking too much that a developer share your passion for it.
The Case for AppReal-VR
It should come as no surprise that I believe AppReal-VR meets these standards. The team has years of experience on the cutting edge of technology. From VR to AR, and other tech fields like Internet of Things, AppReal-VR consistently delivers a quality product, even when working under tight time constraints.
Under Yariv Levski’s leadership, the company has built everything from mobile games to completely immersive virtual tourism experiences. The team is creative, expert in Agile workflow, and genuinely loves working with new trends. No matter your industry or vertical, chances are at least one AppReal-VR employee has been there before.
Engaging a software development firm is a major decision, and you should weigh your options carefully. AppReal-VR has so many satisfied clients, though, that it belongs on nearly any project’s shortlist.