For the last few weeks, rumour mills have been buzzing about Apple announcing something big around ‘mixed reality’. It has been suggested that at WWDC 2022, Apple could unveil a new OS based on AR and VR — Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Rumours about a headset from Apple have also been doing the rounds. While this is all speculation, what is true is that Apple — and other big tech companies like Google, Meta, Amazon, and Microsoft — have been making a big play for AR as well as VR. We tell you the big differences and why Apple is making a big bet on it:
What is Augmented Reality?
As the word suggests, Augmented Reality is all about adding digital stuff to real world. What happens in AR is that the real world remains at the heart of it but what does is that it enhances the experience with digital layers. Take the case of Pokemon Go, where AR fuelled the craze around the game. Or Apple’s Measure app. It relies heavily on AR and still uses real-world elements to deliver results. AR is being used by Apple, Google, Microsoft and others to augment the experience in apps and other services. Smart glasses is another good example of AR being at the heart of a gadget.
What is Virtual Reality?
VR or Virtual Reality has been a part of the conversation for a while now. It did make inroads but still isn’t a mainstream piece of technology. VR is more immersive and is dependent on other gadgets, like a headset or a display. You get to be a part of a virtual world or experience that is totally different from the real world. It’s a computer-generated world and you can experience it with the help of other devices.
What is the big difference between the two?
The names might be confusing but VR and AR are totally different. Virtual reality is all about giving you an experience of another world, a virtual world. Augmented reality, on the other hand, is about enhancing real-world experiences as it adds to reality.
What is Apple’s big bet on AR and VR?
Apple CEO Tim Cook in September 2016 spoke about AR and VR. In an interview, Cook said, “There’s virtual reality and there’s augmented reality — both of these are incredibly interesting. But my own view is that augmented reality is the larger of the two, probably by far.” And Apple has been gradually integrating AR — might not be in-your-face tech — and its impact is being seen. Take the case of Live Text — a cool feature on iPhone — which allows you to use the camera and AI to get information from the real world. It is an AR feature that is quite popular now.
ARKit, which is Apple’s AR platform, was launched in 2017 to enable developers to create for iPhones and iPads.
At WWDC 2022, Apple didn’t launch an AR/VR headset nor did it talk elaborately about either tech. But there were enough glimpses — in the world of AR. The Home app has been redesigned and has a lot of AR influence. Live Text will get video support and once again will rely on AR to deliver accurate results.