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26 September 2018

WebAR with iOS12 and AR QuickLook

Posted By Matt Murphy
Apple ar quicklook ArKit augmented reality ios12 web ar

Augmented Reality From Your Web Browser

A week ago Apple released the latest version of it's mobile operating system - iOS 12. With it comes a bundle of new opportunities and features, and one of those is AR QuickLook. This will allow allow developers to use augmented reality content straight from the web browser. No need for the user to download an app from the App Store, all they have to do is visit a web site that uses AR QuickLook on a compatible ARKit 2 device while running iOS12. The user can then place the content that's been provided straight in the real world.
That's pretty awesome news for everyone involved with augmented reality. Here's what you can do once you find some web enabled AR content

When you first open some augmented reality web content on iOS12, this what you will see. The content is loaded up and shown in Object mode, allowing you to rotate and scale the object.On ArKit compatible devices you'll see the AR button at the top. Press that and you'll enter camera mode. Move your phone around a little to help detect a plane, once it's found the object will be placed into the real world.

So, if you're browsing here with iOS 12 on a compatible device (iPhone 6S or newer, iPad 2017 or newer), tap the links below to check it out! You'll see a small icon in the top right of each thumbnail to let you know that you can tap to launch AR QuickLook.

Stepping Stone

For visualisation this could be a massive step forwards. Just imagine browsing the likes of Argos or AO and then being able to see the product, to scale, in it's intended spot in your own home. All this without needing an app. Retail giant Shopify is one of the first to the punch, making many of it's products available to view with AR QuickLook.

However, with this said there are disadvantages. AR QuickLook is just that- it was never intended to give any kind of interactivity or gamification but more as a visual tool. The pipeline for asset creation seems relatively straight forward at first, as Apple released a command line tool to convert files to the USDZ file format that was created by Pixar. Whilst it does a great job with most static meshes there still seems to be quite a few bugs with regards to skeletal character animation, but I'm sure this will improve as time goes on. Lastly, this feature is only supported on iOS12, on devices with an Apple A9 or newer processor. That means if you were to integrate this solution from Apple, users of Android phones would be completely left out, whilst users of older Apple devices would get a watered down experience with no augmented reality.

It's a fun feature that provides great SLAM tracking direct from your web browser, but platform limitations are a big barrier right now. Other web based AR platforms do exist, but we're yet to see an open, multi-platform solution that can provide this type of stability through SLAM tracking. Over to Google then...