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Lots of developers are working on augmented reality apps and games, but they have to modify their work to take advantage of the unique platform features of iOS and Android. That turns out to be a considerable amount of effort, as those platforms have been diverging, said Dan Miller, XR evangelist at Unity, in an interview with GamesBeat.
“It’s an abstraction layer on top of [Google’s ARCore] and [Apple’s ARKit],” Miller said. “Developers can build an app once and run on both platforms.”
AR Foundation will eliminate some hurdles in development and bring AR projects to a wider audience at a reduced cost, Miller said. According to Unity, AR is available on as many as a billion smartphones.
Publishing AR apps on mobile devices has the potential for massive scale, since there are so many AR-capable smartphones in the world. And AR could be used for a lot of the day, as it enhances what a user is seeing. Eventually, AR revenue is expected to surpass virtual reality revenue, because of its reach to so many more devices.
Miller said that AR Foundation would debut in the middle of 2019 with the 2019.2 version of the Unity Editor. Unity will also enable “shader graph,” a feature that will open up new kinds of shaders and effects in AR.
And Unity will show AR Remote, a way to iterate and build quickly by connecting an AR device to the Unity Editor.
“You can test the AR software without having to compile it to the device, which saves time,” Miller said.
Miller said there is a groundswell of AR usage in both games and non-game apps. Pokémon Go, for instance, used Unity for its AR implementation.
“We see AR as a core foundation for the future,” Miller said.