What are the best tools for augmented reality development?

May 5, 2020

Augmented Reality App Development Tools

The augmented reality technology has altered the way we communicate and interact with the surrounding environment. Though most people consider AR to be merely an entertainment technology, AR app development tools are, in fact, broadly utilized in numerous industries, including medical, architecture, E-commerce, and others.

Best AR Development Tools for Creating AR-based Apps

If you are looking for the precise tools for your project, you may get lost in the ocean of several SDKs out there. The selection isn’t that simple, indeed, but we are here to assist you in making a sensible decision along with the pricing of these AR development software. Here is a list of top AR development tools for 2020.

1) Google ARCore


Google supports building AR apps for Android as well as iOS. ARCore backs technologies for embedding virtual content into diverse real environments, which includes motion tracking, environmental recognition as well as lighting recognition.

A 3D model built through ARCore can react to the alterations in the lighting volume as well as generate different shades. Smartphone movements don’t concern the state of affairs of the model in space in any of the ways. A proprietary camera is utilized to define the components of physical objects as well as horizontal surfaces. So, created objects are automatedly attached to floors, tabletops, and other surfaces.

The tool is backed by the below platforms:

  • Android 7.0+ and Android NDK,
  • Unity для Android and Unity для iOS
  • Unreal Engine and iOS 11+

Using this SDK enables features:

  • Monitoring the phone’s motion and its position compared to the nearby objects
  • Estimating the lighting to fine-tune it on the involved virtual objects
  • Indulging the environment by detecting their location, size as well as surfaces
  • Placing virtual objects in an assured spot and sharing with other application users
  • Developing 3D objects with the help of Blocks VR building tools as well as Tilt Brush

Pricing: It comes under free AR development tools

2) Apple ARKit


Apple ARKit is a package first launched during the WWDC 2017 event and one of the latest tools for AR app development. The solution identifies dimensions of the nearby scenarios and considers lighting conditions to incorporate virtual objects with real life as flawlessly as possible.

It backs Arkit Unity and there is no requirement to connect any added directional markers such as iBeacon for particular orientation and routing.

This toolkit for augmented reality development was introduced for building mobile software for the iOS platform. It helps create applications just for iPhones and iPads with this particular SDK, so it may be your top augmented reality SDK if your objective is to facilitate AR exclusively for these devices.

ARKit is compatible with:

  • iOS 11 and newer platforms

Key features include:

  • 2D image monitoring, detection as well as tracking
  • Space as well as 3D objects recognition
  • Creating multiplayer AR-based games
  • Detection of horizontal planes
  • Lighting estimation for enabling virtual objects appear realistic
  • Facial monitoring and tracking

Pricing: Free

3) Vuforia


This SDK for the AR app development framework was developed and launched by Qualcomm, which is a prominent company that specialized in research and development. The platform incorporates a QCAR library written in C++ containing targets and image rendering functionalities. Targets are real objects, identifying which your apps can array virtual objects in the required locations and proportions.

Vuforia even features Smart Terrain and Extended Tracking when the object remains enabled even after it leaves the frame, which offers abilities for executing apps with augmented reality that exactly surrounds the user.

Vuforia Solutions are backed by:

  • Android and iOS
  • Universal Windows Platform
  • Unity Editor

Key Features that Vuforia provides developers comprise:

  • Object Scanner which recognizes both 2D and 3D objects
  • Text recognition with 100,000 words English vocabulary and preference to build your own
  • VuMarks: barcodes that can enclose data or act in the form of markers
  • Video playback when an assured condition is met (when the image or target surface is detected)
  • Virtual buttons that can transform any of the surfaces into a touch screen
  • Include smart glasses support, storing information on the device and the cloud

Pricing: Both free and paid subscription packages (Cloud: $99 per month, Basic: $42 per month and Pro comes with individual pricing for commercial usage)

4) Wikitude


Wikitude is another widely accepted framework for building AR apps, which was launched in the year 2008. This SDK is continuously enhanced and modernized. The most up-to-date Wikitude SDK 8 was introduced in 2018. Wikitude features a collection of built-in abilities with rendering features and is easily accessible.

The platform is supple so that developers can build tailored solutions and render objects through 3rd party tools. However, one has to create a piece of JS code with the assistance of Wikitude JS SDK and Wikitude Native SDK.

One gets a full-blown online studio through Wikitude for facilitating and arraying static augmented reality objects. One merely requires employing rendering and uploading needed images to the studio, put in AR objects, build JS code, and directly paste it into the in-hand project.

Supported and backed by all key platforms:

  • Android, iOS and Windows for tablets

If one uses Wikitude to build an application, one can:

  • Import as well as render 3D objects using SLAM technology
  • Create apps for smart glasses
  • Store data in both the cloud and on the device
  • Use location-based services
  • Utilize JavaScript API, Native API, Xamarin, Unity3D, Cordova, and Titanium
  • Enable object, the scene as well as image recognition functions
  • Employ studio to add, handle, and control virtual objects without coding efforts

Pricing: Free trial + paid subscription packages (opening from €1,990 per single app)

5) MaxST


It is a commanding framework for mobile software developers with significant features and components.

  • Image Tracker: Recognizes and monitors planar circuits of particular images. It backs 3 tracking modes: Normal, Extended (for tracking objects in the field of camera vision), and Multi (for tracking up till 3 objects).
  • Instant Tracker: Spots a flat surface in the field of vision to locate 3D objects.
  • Visual SLAM: Builds and saves 3-dimensional maps that are unconventionally scaled and extended further than the fringes of the preliminary frame
  • Object Tracker: Loads the needed map files as well as put in the AR objects right over them
  • QR/Barcode Scanner: Identifies pre-programmed Barcodes as well as QR-codes.

It is compatible with platforms like:

  • Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac OS

Comparison of the AR App Development Tools

Google ARCore Apple ARKit Vuforia Wikitude MaxST
Platforms Android 7.0+, iOS 11+ iOS 11+ Android, iOS, UPW & Unity Editor Android, iOS &Windows for Tablets Android, iOS, Windows & Mac OS
License Category Free Free Both Free and Commercial Commercial Both Free and Commercial
Smart Glasses Backing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Unity Support Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cloud Storage Yes Yes Yes Yes No
3D Enablement Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Geolocation Yes Yes Yes Yes No

Key Takeaways

These are the best augmented reality app development tools that help you to create extensive AR apps but which one you can use? Well, all these tools have different features and functionalities. You can choose the tool as per your project scope and requirement.

If you are still doubtful how to prefer the AR toolkit that would be the ideal fit for developing your applications, we suggest you turn to professionals like us for advice. Reach out to us to enable the foremost step towards your project success.

Time Card Written By: Sophie Cook

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