It's hard to admit, but I'm old enough now that I've been around long enough to see virtual reality (VR) come and go, then, surprisingly, make a real effort at a comeback. VR was seen as the next big thing for so many different reasons, and not just in the smartphone industry. There have been so many think pieces about whether or not cinema would get a huge VR boost -- and it's still a thing that gets threatened from time-to-time.
Google, HTC, Samsung, and many other companies tried their hand at the VR experience to varying degrees of success. Google, for its part, dove right in with Daydream and really tried to make it look like a worthwhile feature. It doesn't look like it will be giving up on the platform altogether anytime soon, so it must be working out at least a little bit for them.
Samsung has been going with VR for the longest it feels like, with the Gear VR headset seeing multiple iterations at this point. HTC, however, probably went in with the biggest investment, trying to help boost VR with its own Vive headsets, which includes a standalone option now, too.
All that to say, it doesn't look like VR is getting that much attention anymore.
That's because of a different technology: augmented reality, or AR. And, while I hate to say it, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that while VR is great, and it has some cool features, it is rather limiting. Not in its scope of technology, features, or content type, but in the sense that it closes us off from people around us.
Which is probably why Apple has helped spur AR into the state it is now, and why after Apple unveiled ARKit for iOS 11 to boost the augmented reality initiative, companies like Google jumped on the bandwagon, too, launching ARCore to compete. Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, has never been quiet about his love for AR and what he believes is a prosperous future for the technology, and it looks like, as has happened so many times before, Apple will help that vision become a reality across the entire mobile market.
I tried Daydream a few times when it first arrived, and I've used Gear VR more times than I can count. I think they're great pieces of tech with cool features, but I'm a fan of AR more than VR, to be honest. The amalgamation of the digital landscape and characters with the real world is pretty cool, but being able to use that technology without blocking out everything around us is pretty convincing in my book.
Yesterday, Apple announced iOS 11.3 with ARKit 1.5, which will make the platform even better for various reasons. Which is great, because while ARKit was awesome out of the gate there is obviously room to grow and improve. But that announcement got me thinking about ARKit, and Google's ARCore, and other options out there. Is this something people are using on a regular basis?
There are already thousands of ARKit-enabled apps in the iOS App Store, and that number will surely grow from this point on. I've tried a few, and some of them have even found a place on my phone, but many of them just haven't caught my attention.
Still, I keep playing Pokémon GO with my kids because they love walking around (weather permitting) and catching digital pocket monsters. I'm a fan of the game, too, so it's fun to work with them and see how AR can truly enhance an experience.
So, I'm curious. Have you jumped on the augmented reality bandwagon yet? Do you think it's the next big thing for mobile? What's your favorite AR-based app so far? Or do you think this is just one more fad that will eventually die out? Let me know!