Augmented Reality: Apple’s revolutionary offering leaves Google’s Android woefully behind

“Augmented reality is one area in which Apple intends to take an unprecedented lead,” J. M. Manness writes for Seeking Alpha. “This move by Apple will give it a tremendous lead over the competing systems: Android, promoted by Alphabet, and Windows mobile by Microsoft. It is unlikely that either will come up with a truly competitive system any time soon.”

“The most difficult problem for an AR system is that it must first interpret its environment from the visual images given it by the system camera. This is one area in which AR and AI overlap – the visual recognition of objects in a scene. It is an extremely difficult problem that requires significant compute resources,” Manness writes. “ARKit is Apple’s API for building AR applications for iOS devices… Essentially, an API does all the hard work for the programmer. This is true here probably more so than in any other API.”

“I believe Apple has been preparing for AR for a long time. Apple surprised the tech world with the A7 chip for the iPhone 5s – the first 64-bit processor for mobile phones. It caught the cellular world flat-footed and all the rest scurried to catch up. But Apple not only had the then current state of computing in mind, they were building for the future,” Manness writes. “When the iOS 11 update is available in the fall, it will instantly become by far the largest AR platform… Apple has just created yet one more very significant moat around the iOS platform. In September, Apple devices will automatically become the default devices for AR, while Android rushes to catch up. Yet Apple will remain far ahead for, at very least, three years. ”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Google. Frantically skating toward wherever Apple puts the puck next – and never getting there before Apple advances it again.

Apple’s AR is much closer to reality than Google’s – June 26, 2017
IKEA’s forthcoming Augmented Reality furniture app powered by Apple’s ARKit – June 19, 2017
Apple’s single most important WWDC 2017 announcement: ARKit – June 11, 2017
Apple CEO Cook discusses philosophy behind HomePod, ARKit’s potential market impact – June 6, 2017
Overnight, Apple will own the world’s largest augmented reality platform – June 7, 2017

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “nony” for the heads up.]


      1. True enough. Google’s most successful AR implementation right now is the Google Translate App that allows you to translate signs/text that you face your camera at w/o needing a data connection to do so. It overlays the foreign language sign/text with the translation so it looks like the sign was originally formatted in ‘your’ language. Cool stuff.

        1. Yes, it is cool stuff, but Alphabet/Google didn’t develop the core tech of that app: they simply bought Quest Visual, who had created an app called Word Lens in 2011. Shortly after the acquisition, Word Lens was removed from the App Store by Alphabet/Google.

          1. The same, practically point for point, can be said of Siri for iOS devices. Doesn’t change that Google Translate is the most successful AR implementation in use today. 🙂

    1. to stick on your face for VR. I saw the commercials! Everyone loved it, even the old folks. You can sit on a sidewalk or bench and look around you and wave your arms at virtual things. It is the next evolutionary Android step for glassholes. /s

      Hopefully, this is yet another case of others rushing half-baked ideas out of the door to appear innovative while Apple takes the time and does the hard work to integrate a useful capability into its ecosystem. If this pans out, then I expect to see a *lot* of sincere apologies from the Cook-bashers and innovation-at-Apple-is-dead people on this forum. And keep in mind that ARKit is in addition to Apple’s work on the hardware side to support this function going forward. If it works well, then Apple just kicked the rest of the smartphone sector in the balls again.

  1. While waiting for the official iOS 11 update I guess eveyone can play around with the Holo AR app available for both iOS and Android platforms. I suspect it will be improved by the time iOS 11 is released and serve as a nice initial baseline.

  2. The example in the article gave me an idea:

    If the iPhone 8 has 3D sensors would it be possible to isolate real-world objects with those sensors and bring those objects into another user’s environment?

    For example, it would be cool if an app like could allow a user to select an Apple Music song and prerecorded dancers/performers. The user would then be able to view those performers dancing to the chosen song on their personal, disco, dance floor.

    1. I think for that to work on current iPhone devices you would get ‘useable’ real-world objects in motion that work only from one angle meaning you would have to stand in the same ‘position’ in a similar room facing the same direction for the AR model to look ‘right’. For stationary non-moving objects it may do a better job and give you more freedom in placement since you could move around the object you are trying to scan. Part of AR is being able to move around to view an object in addition to getting great support for proximity.

      1. Maybe the 3D sensors can detect all
        the geometry of the performer when the performer moves around during the capture phase. The program would then know the total composition of the performer, actor, object, etc. When the user moves around the moving object, the system could estimate the missing parts of the moving object by combining the visual capture knowledge with the saved geometry and map accordingly. For example, let’s say a leg kick is captured, and a user moves to the side of the performer. The system would know the entire geometry of the object based on the captured performance, so it could call that knowledge and fill-in the missing data.

        I’m sure game developers, etc. have a much more elegant solution.

        1. For a single camera system to get an accurate model of a moving (not just rotating) object is nearly impossible due to the reference points constantly moving as in the case of a dancer. I think in order for a system to capture something like that with one camera it would need to have a reference model already in the system with all movable joints at least registered so the system could understand where all the surfaces are on a moving human figure and generate the VR model of the moving dancer you are scanning. If you have multiple targets (as in background dancers) I don’t think any single camera solution will work.

          1. Software already exists that deals with navigation in dynamic environments – say, a tumbling asteroid. From frame to frame, some tracked features disappear while new ones are identified. Frame to frame analysis can yield a lot of useful data and, over time, a reasonable 3-D model can be generated even using just one camera.

            Fortunately, in this case, many of the applications of AR are associated with static objects. As others have pointed out, that is a much more tractable problem.

            The risk for Apple is that its AR capabilities will be over-hyped from the start, setting up the more poorly informed for early disappointments. But, just like the original iPhone in 2007, I anticipate great improvements in coming years. I recall a recent article claiming that current iPhones are 1360x as fast as the original iPhone (I hope that I got that right). Not bad for a decade of work, Apple! Go A-series SoCs and all of the specialty Apple silicon!

            1. A tumbling asteroid is a non-changing object that is ‘rotating’ so a single camera and the right software is able to create a good model. A dancer as I explained above is more like an asteroid made of some weird liquid that is constantly changing shape while rotating.

              I agree that AR in general is being overhyped. In Apple’s case the implementation on older HW (a large part of iOS devices) of ARKit will have to be good enough not to turn people off on AR on future devices.

  3. I’m fairly certain Wall Street is betting on Alphabet over Apple and wherever WS points to that’s where the big money is headed. If Apple were to get a slight lead in AR, it would be declared as unimportant based on the iPhone’s small market share percentage. As Alphabet has done before, it will figure a way to overcome Apple’s lead within six months, tops. Alphabet is a master at making Apple look bad in terms of market share. If Alphabet has to pay Android manufacturers to put out more powerful devices, they will, to stay right with Apple and eventually pass them using far cheaper devices.

    Tim Cook doesn’t seem to realize Alphabet is out to beat Apple at everything Apple attempts to do. Apple needs to go after Alphabet at their very core. Apple would need to pound Alphabet into the ground but Apple is run by a bunch of softies so that won’t happen.

    1. If you think Wall Street knows what they are talking about then I would check again if I were you. It’s true they do down play Apple quite a bit more than google; but remind us who is more valuable again. Not to mention who consistently releases the better earnings.

      Second, google/android has more market share because it’s an open source software used by many different companies in their phones and yet Apple makes 90+% of the profit in mobile devices. Shows just how much that market share really means in terms of profit.

      Finally, google has only recently come out with a phone to “compete” against the iPhone and we all know how great that did. The pixel is crap compared to the iPhone and is years behind the iPhone and will always be thanks to the fragmented software that is android.

      Please tell us again how Apple should worry about google.

  4. The more I hear and read about Augmented Reality the more I am convinced AR had no real benefit or application. AR is a fantasy wrapped in dream hidden in an exaggeration. If AR succeeds it will only be worthwhile to a niche community.

  5. I’m not sold on AR but I have played around with VR on the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift and for gaming platforms I consider it a hit in some unique ways.

    Will be curious to see what Apple brings to the world with AR, it’s a pretty open field right now.

  6. The quality of the AR is almost irrelevant, the advantage is that Apple has made sure that the vast majority of its device are updated to the most current software both by making it compatible with older devices longer and by making it easy to update. As a result they’ve got this massive market over night whenever they launch some now feature. An Android version could theoretically be more advanced but if nobody is using it and won’t be for a long time then developers won’t bother taking advantage of it, and by the time people are using it then Apple’s version will have improved anyway. Android has so dropped the ball by being so fragmented.

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