Categories: Developers / Mobile Apps
Augmented reality (AR) is hot stuff for technologists. But while much AR requires devices like headsets or projectors, we’re increasingly seeing it as part of our favorite mobile apps on our mobile devices. Take ModiFace, an AR experience that maps cosmetics on to the face of users. It’s currently in use by some 84 brands, and claims to multiply the time spent on an app by 6 – and double conversions. With the new ARKit from iOS and a newly announced Google version of the same, AR is on track to be the next big thing. But getting it right is key to your mobile app’s success. Let’s take a look at how you can get AR working to maximum effect.
Does this lighting wash me out? Aim for predictable lighting conditions.
AR experiences are heavily reliant on world mapping. That means that they track and monitor the world around you via your phone’s camera. But as anyone who’s tried to take a photo at dusk knows, that mapping isn’t perfect. Developers should aim to ensure that AR experiences take place in situations with predictable lighting. Featureless backdrops or dim conditions pose a challenge to getting AR performing at its best. While it’s possible to get around these issues,reconsider your use of AR if your app is going to be used in situations where conditions are frequently far from ideal.
Hold your horses. Give your AR functionality time to think.
Tracking quality information shifts as the user’s camera shifts. You can use this movement input to give the user feedback about how to adjust their tracking in order to optimize their AR functionality. You may want to guide them to move slowly or minimally – or to allow for time for the device to properly map and produce AR content. Take IKEA’s recently launched AR app, which lets users try before they buy by furnishing their homes with digital furniture. The app instructs users how to “place” furniture using the app, giving them feedback if adjustments need to be made.
Right here, right now: make AR in mobile apps contextual and relevant
Like any functionality, AR should have a purpose beyond looking good. AR should be applied in instances when users actually need it, and it should actually add to the overall experience. AR is inherently first-person, so relevant content that draws from the user’s context and provides clear value is the goal. The user is the one controlling the experience, so design for them and allow for non-linear storytelling. AR is an opportunity to truly personalize your mobile apps – so make sure they walk the walk.
Designing AR experiences is tricky. It requires a complex balance of design and code, along with a deep understanding of UX and personalization. But getting it right can lead to an experience that shows that reality really is just a stepping stone to something bigger.