Software

Apple says AR on iPhone was a 'breakout trend' of 2017

Apple App Store editors said augmented reality (AR) had a strong year, appearing in functional apps to games.

Augmented reality (AR) was one of 2017's top app trends on iOS, Apple said in an App Store announcement on Thursday.

App Store editors determined four breakout trends of the year to feature as part of the App Store's larger Best of 2017 celebration that looks at apps, music, and movies. AR, dubbed "a less virtual reality" in the post, was first on the list.

SEE: Virtual and augmented reality policy (Tech Pro Research)

"AR has the potential to fundamentally change how we interact with the world around us by blending digitally rendered objects with our environment," Apple said in the announcement. "The screen of your iOS device becomes a window into the AR world, where you interact with virtual objects in ways never before possible."

The post spotlighted five AR-driven apps, ranging from functional to games.

On the more practical side, IKEA Place lets users see how a piece of IKEA furniture would look in their home before purchasing and assembling it. Other home stores, like Lowe's, have been using AR for better customer service. Insight Heart gives those in the medical field a realistic human heart to examine and learn from.

Filmr, a video-editing app, allows users to insert animated creatures like dwarves into videos. Continuing on the creative side, an AR version of the children's book My Very Hungry Caterpillar and two games—Euclidean Lands and Zombie Gunship Revenant AR—rounded out the list.

Seeing growth in the existence and popularity of AR in apps may boost continued app development in 2018. Developers may begin to consider how AR can be used to boost a brand or help customers, like in the IKEA app. It also shows that, whether they consider it AR or not, consumers are interested in and using the emerging technology in their lives.

The announcement comes after an AR-centered year for Apple. In June, the tech giant launched their ARKit, which gives developers an AR framework that's compatible with iOS devices. The iPhone X has an infrared camera and 4K video to run AR apps more easily.

The other notable trends in the App Store roundup were real-time multiplayer games, apps focused on mental health, and reading apps.

Another note for tech leaders: It seems like the self-learning trend extends past MooCs and into iTunes. The top three courses on iTunes U focused on learning to code and developing apps. Companies that rely on iOS devices may be able to use these courses to train and develop employees.

On a larger scale, the iPhone App of the Year was meditation app Calm and iPad App of the Year was photo editor Affinity Photo.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. AR was one of the biggest app trends for iOS in 2017, Apple announced. Developers used the technology in a variety of ways, from the practical to games.
  2. Apple has focused on AR this year, releasing the ARKit as a development framework and building the iPhone X with specs to handle AR.
  3. AR's success with consumers and the App Store editors suggest the technology will continue to grow in 2018.

Also see

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Image: James Martin/CNET

About Olivia Krauth

Olivia Krauth is a Multiplatform Reporter at TechRepublic.

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