Augmented Reality

AR Development Tools

Johnny Reid
Dec 23, 2023

To assist AR developers, here's a rundown of the top AR developer tools every developer should be familiar with.

Augmented Reality Development Tools that Every Developer Needs to Know.

Augmented Reality Developer

Becoming an augmented reality (AR) developer is an exciting journey into the cutting-edge world of technology. AR developers are at the forefront of innovation, creating immersive digital experiences that blend the virtual with the real world. To embark on this path, one typically starts by acquiring a strong foundation in programming languages like C#, C++, or JavaScript, which are commonly used in AR development. Additionally, familiarity with game engines such as Unity or Unreal Engine is crucial, as they provide the tools and frameworks necessary for building AR applications.

Once the technical skills are in place, AR developers delve into understanding the principles of computer vision, which is the backbone of AR technology. This involves grasping concepts like object recognition, tracking, and mapping, which enable digital objects to interact seamlessly with the physical environment. Collaboration and creativity are also key aspects of this profession, as AR developers often work closely with designers and artists to bring imaginative AR experiences to life. In an ever-evolving field like AR, staying up-to-date with the latest hardware, software, and industry trends is essential. With dedication, a passion for innovation, and a commitment to continuous learning, aspiring AR developers can play a vital role in shaping the future of technology and how we interact with our surroundings.

Tools that AR developers should know about.

With the speedy expansion of the augmented reality sector, both developers and non-developers alike are utilizing some of the most well-known platforms, developer tools, and software development kits (SDKs) to create captivating AR apps and experiences. To assist AR developers, here's a rundown of the top AR developer tools every developer should be familiar with.


Unity is a leading cross-platform game engine and development environment. It supports the creation of 2D and 3D games and interactive experiences across multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, PC, Mac, and many others. With its intuitive interface and powerful tools, Unity makes it easy for developers of all skill levels to build and publish high-quality games and interactive experiences.

One of the key strengths of Unity is its extensive asset store, which offers a vast collection of pre-made 3D models, animations, sounds, and other resources that can be easily imported into projects. Additionally, Unity provides access to a wide range of scripting APIs and plugins, allowing developers to add custom functionality and extend the engine's capabilities.

Unity's support for virtual and augmented reality development is also a major selling point, as it enables developers to create immersive AR and VR experiences with ease. The engine features built-in support for ARKit and ARCore on iOS and Android, respectively, as well as for VR platforms like Oculus, HTC Vive, and others.

This platform contains extensive documentation and has an active community of developers, making Unity a popular choice for game development projects of all scales. Whether you're a hobbyist or a professional game developer, Unity provides the tools and resources you need to bring your visions to life.


Apple's ARKit 6 is a framework for building augmented reality experiences on iOS devices. It provides advanced features like People Occlusion, which allows AR content to realistically interact with people, and collaborative sessions, which allows multiple users to experience AR together. ARKit 6 also has improved motion tracking, enabling more seamless and realistic AR experiences. 

With ARKit 6, capturing breathtaking high-resolution videos of AR experiences just got easier. The addition of 4K video opens up a world of possibilities for professional video editing, film production, social media apps and beyond. The video and capture capabilities have been enhanced even further with HDR video support and high-resolution background image capture. ARKit 6 has also expanded its Location Anchors to new cities such as Montreal, Sydney, Singapore, and Tokyo, while also featuring enhancements to Motion Capture.

With the integration of RealityKit (a framework used to implement high-performance 3D simulation and rendering by leveraging information provided by the ARKit framework to seamlessly integrate virtual objects into the real world) developers can create photorealistic AR experiences with easy-to-use tools and a powerful rendering engine. The latest version of ARKit 6 also includes support for the new M1 chips in the latest Macs, making it even easier for developers to create and run AR experiences on both iOS and macOS platforms.


The RealityKit framework is a purpose-built platform for augmented reality, boasting photorealistic rendering, camera effects, animations, physics, and a host of other features. RealityKit streamlines AR development like never before; with its native Swift APIs, seamless integration with ARKit, hyper-realistic physics-based rendering, animations that can manipulate transforms and skeletons, spatial audio, and physics simulation for rigid bodies, it is enabling AR development to reach new realms.

Reality Composer

Reality Composer is a versatile tool for creating AR experiences for iPhone, iPad, and macOS. It features a live linking capability allowing developers to easily switch between Mac and mobile devices to design, test, and refine their AR content. The built-in AR library offers a wide range of pre-made virtual objects that can be customized to fit the needs of each project. 

In addition to the library, Reality Composer allows for the creation of animations and the use of spatial audio, adding a new level of realism to AR scenes. The tool is available as part of Xcode and as a standalone app for iOS and iPadOS, providing seamless development across multiple platforms. With the ability to record and play sensor and camera data, and export projects as USDZ files, Reality Composer streamlines the AR development process.

Reality Converter Beta

The Reality Converter app offers a convenient solution for converting, previewing, and customizing USDZ 3D objects on Mac. With its simple drag-and-drop functionality, users can effortlessly import common 3D file formats, such as .obj, .gltf, and .usd, and immediately view the converted USDZ result. The app allows for the adjustment of material properties using personal textures, as well as editing of file metadata. Moreover, built-in IBL options enable users to preview their USDZ objects under a range of lighting and environmental conditions.

Unreal Engine

‍Unreal Engine is a powerful game engine and development platform that enables developers to create high-quality, interactive 3D experiences for a wide range of applications such as games, architectural visualization, product design, and more. It's widely used by some of the world's top game developers, and is known for its powerful tools, high-fidelity graphics, and its ability to scale from small, indie projects to large-scale games.

Unreal Engine features a user-friendly interface and a visual scripting language called Blueprint, which allows developers to build complex systems and interactions without writing any code. The engine also supports a wide range of platforms and devices, including PC, mobile, console, VR, and AR, and it offers integrations with a variety of tools and technologies to enhance the development process.

In addition to its robust feature set, Unreal Engine is supported by a large community of developers and artists, and there are many resources available, including tutorials, forums, and sample projects, to help users get started and continue to grow their skills. With its advanced capabilities, flexible tools, and scalability, Unreal Engine is an essential tool for game developers and other content creators looking to create interactive, high-quality 3D experiences.


Blender is a free and open-source 3D creation software that allows artists, animators, and developers to create a wide range of 3D content, including animations, models, and visual effects. It's a powerful and versatile tool that provides a comprehensive suite of features and capabilities, including a robust 3D modeling toolset, advanced rigging and animation tools, and a wide range of visual effects and compositing options.

Blender is used by a large and active community of artists, developers, and hobbyists, and is well-supported by a wealth of online resources and tutorials. It runs on a variety of platforms, including Windows, Mac, and Linux, making it accessible to users regardless of their operating system or hardware.

The software's open-source nature means that it is constantly being improved and updated by the community, and new features and capabilities are regularly added. This has made Blender an essential tool for many artists and developers working in the 3D content creation space, and its use has become increasingly popular in industries ranging from architecture to film and television.


Google ARCore is a platform for building augmented reality experiences on Android devices. It enables developers to create interactive and engaging AR content by utilizing motion tracking, environmental understanding, and light estimation. ARCore is free to use and works with Java/OpenGL, Unity and Unreal Engine, making it accessible for a wide range of developers to create high-quality AR experiences. 

Meta Spark

Meta Spark AR Studio is a software platform developed by Meta Company that provides tools for creating, testing, and deploying AR experiences. It offers a range of features and capabilities, including drag-and-drop asset creation, scripting and scripting libraries, live preview and testing, and more.

Meta Spark AR Studio is designed to make AR content creation accessible to a wider range of users, including developers and non-developers alike. The platform's intuitive interface, comprehensive documentation, and community support make it an ideal choice for anyone looking to get started with AR development.

Best Augmented Reality Developers

Great augmented reality (AR) developers possess a unique combination of skills and characteristics that enable them to create exceptional AR experiences. Firstly, they have a deep understanding of computer vision and 3D graphics, allowing them to leverage the technical aspects of AR development effectively. They are well-versed in concepts like motion tracking, object recognition, and spatial mapping, enabling them to create realistic and immersive AR environments. Furthermore, great AR developers have a strong foundation in programming languages such as Swift or Unity, allowing them to implement complex algorithms and optimize performance for AR applications.

In addition to technical expertise, great AR developers demonstrate a high level of creativity and problem-solving abilities. They can think outside the box to design innovative and engaging AR experiences that captivate users. They understand the importance of user experience and interface design in AR applications, considering factors like intuitive interactions, seamless integration of virtual and real-world elements, and overall visual appeal. Furthermore, great AR developers are adaptable and stay updated with the latest advancements in AR technology, constantly exploring new possibilities and pushing the boundaries of what AR can achieve. They are also effective communicators, collaborating with designers, artists, and other team members to bring their vision to life and deliver a polished AR product.

Augmented Reality Development - Consumer Use Cases

AR development for consumer use cases has experienced significant growth and innovation over the past few years, revolutionizing how individuals interact with the world around them. AR technology has been seamlessly integrated into smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices, providing users with immersive and interactive experiences. From gaming to shopping, AR has opened up new possibilities. For instance, in the gaming industry, AR games have taken center stage, allowing players to explore virtual worlds superimposed onto the real environment. This merging of the real and virtual realms has led to a surge in location-based AR games, encouraging users to venture outdoors, discover hidden treasures, and compete with friends in an exciting and dynamic manner.

Beyond gaming, AR development has also transformed consumer shopping experiences. Retailers have embraced AR to enable virtual try-ons for clothing and accessories, eliminating the need for physical fitting rooms. Consumers can now visualize how an outfit would look on them before making a purchase, enhancing confidence and reducing the likelihood of returns. Moreover, AR-powered shopping apps have revolutionized interior design, allowing users to virtually place furniture and decor items in their homes to see how they would look and fit. As AR technology continues to advance and become more accessible, consumer use cases are expected to expand further, providing people with increasingly personalized and interactive experiences in their daily lives.

Navigating the Landscape of Augmented Reality Development

In the ever-evolving world of augmented reality (AR), the technologies driving app development are as diverse as the applications themselves. The choice of technology hinges on factors like hardware type, device power, and specific AR applications, each with unique capabilities and constraints.

The Rise of Mobile AR

Smartphones, ubiquitous and portable, have brought AR to the mainstream. Unlike bulkier headsets or sleek smart glasses, mobile AR platforms are readily accessible, making them an attractive option for business applications. This year, ARKit and ARCore dominate the mobile AR scene, proving pivotal for try-on solutions and AR avatars, and playing a crucial role in virtual customer engagement.

The Power of Native vs. Cross-Platform Development

Developers face a choice between native and cross-platform AR app development. Native apps leverage the full potential of a device's hardware, offering richer features at the cost of higher development time and expense. Cross-platform apps, while quicker to develop, might not harness the device's complete capabilities. Interestingly, despite Android's market dominance, developers have shown a preference for ARKit, as evidenced by GitHub repository trends.

ARKit: Pushing the Boundaries in iOS

ARKit stands out with features like Location Anchors, using geographic coordinates to place virtual objects in real-world settings. Its reliance on Apple Maps data, however, means limited functionality in unsupported cities. The Depth API and LiDAR technologies offer enhanced scene analysis, enabling more accurate interactions between real and virtual objects. ARKit's recent updates include better motion capture and improved Plane Anchors, enhancing user experience.

ARCore: Keeping Pace in the Android World

Google's ARCore competes with innovative features like Cloud Anchors and terrain anchors, bolstered by data from Google Earth and Street View. ARCore also excels in facial recognition with AR Faces and AR Images, enhancing virtual try-on experiences and indoor navigation solutions.

Unity for Cross-Platform AR Development

For those prioritizing a faster market launch over native capabilities, Unity AR Foundation emerges as a viable cross-platform solution. Despite certain limitations, Unity's framework supports a range of functionalities from plane detection to occlusion, making it a strong contender in cross-platform AR app development.

Web-Based AR: Accessibility with Limitations

Web AR, running on various devices without extra software, offers simplicity and accessibility. It's ideal for straightforward tasks like virtual try-ons but lacks the complexity required for more advanced AR applications.

AR in Wearables: Exploring New Frontiers

Wearable AR tech like Microsoft HoloLens, Magic Leap 2, Varjo XR-4, and others opens new possibilities in software engineering. These devices, each with unique user interfaces and optimization needs, are reshaping the landscape of wearable AR technology.

AI: Enhancing AR's Potential

When AR frameworks fall short, artificial intelligence steps in. AI algorithms are integral to AR tools, from improving object detection to enhancing the overall AR experience. Custom AI implementations can dramatically transform AR projects, especially in complex scenarios like virtual fitting rooms or navigation solutions.

Challenges and Best Practices in AR Development

Embarking on an AR project involves navigating hardware limitations, tracking accuracy, and rigorous testing across various devices and conditions. Developers must balance performance with device capabilities, employ strategies to improve tracking, and adopt specialized testing protocols to ensure a seamless AR experience.

In conclusion, the field of AR development is a dynamic landscape of evolving technologies and approaches. From mobile platforms to wearables, and from native applications to web-based solutions, the choices are as varied as the applications themselves. As AR continues to integrate into our daily lives, staying abreast of these trends and technologies is crucial for developers and businesses alike.