A new app for iPhones and iPads gives developers a sandbox for testing their AR experiences and sharing them with the world.
Available now in the iOS App Store, wiARframe, a free app with no in-app purchases, enables developers to create their content via a web-based tool designed to strip away the need for coding or complex interfaces.
"WiARframe is being built in the spirit of lightweight web and mobile design tools. It will follow the paradigms that most designers are already familiar with and (where possible) avoid introducing the complexity you'd get with a games engine. How is this possible? We use sensible defaults," said Jeremiah Alexander, the developer behind wiARframe, in a blog post.
"We're making a lot of choices on your behalf, like the light sources in the scene, the shaders used to render 3D Models, and handling the real world scale of the scene. Yes, this reduces your control but for a prototype, we think speed and ease of use are more important."
The mobile app lets developers quickly view their work, make changes in the development environment, and push them immediately to the app. In addition, the app gives developers a platform for publishing their content for others to try.
Initially, wiARframe will focus on mobile AR, which is logical due to its accessibility. While the platform is only available for ARKit at launch, Alexander says that an Android version of the app supporting ARCore is forthcoming. He plans to eventually port the platform to HoloLens, Magic Leap One, and other AR headsets.
"The possibilities for AR are endless and ideas will evolve as the medium does. Accordingly, our goal is for wiARframe to evolve with AR and the demands of our users. That's why we're launching our Beta now. The product is far from polished but it's developed as far as it can without continuous user feedback," said Alexander.
It's status as a beta shows. On an iPhone 6S, the app crashes before an experience can be selected. However, the app works as advertised on an iPhone 8 Plus, in our experience.
Augmented reality itself is still an emerging technology, and simplified development tools are a fast-growing segment within the industry. As developers familiarize themselves with the new paradigm, tools like wiARframe, Amazon Sumerian, and others flatten the learning curve and accelerate the speed to market for AR content. This, in turn, hastens the growth of the industry as a whole.
In other words, a rising tide lifts all boats. Check out wiARframe's quick video below to see it in action.