Having seen some of the apps that were put into the App Store this week with ARKit support, it really hearkened back to an analogy Steve Jobs loved to make when OS X was first being developed.
Building software, he opined, was a bit like building a skyscraper. There’s a certain number of floors that you can build on your own before the whole thing collapses under its own weight. At a certain point it just gets too complex for you or your team.
But with good APIs (such as the ones OS X provided), you still can build that same number of floors, but with the help of those great APIs, you are already many floors higher when you first start building.
ARKit perfectly embodies this principle. A few years ago, building your own AR system was a ton of work and was hard to get right. But since Apple has included AR APIs in its SDK, you now get AR for free.
That suddenly means that a ton of little apps can now be made and have AR as part of them, when they wouldn’t have been practical to build at all before. Adding an AR component to a simple game? Easy! Want to make a tape measure app that lets you measure things around you? Now that’s easy to do with AR.
I don’t think AR is going to be a revolutionary change to how everything in mobile apps works. But it’s now within easy reach of every iOS app developer who wants to try something with it. Investment in these APIs give Apple incredible long-term advantages that are hard for competitors to catch up with.