5 Tools for Augmented Reality App Development

December 16, 2019 • Shannon Flynn


Software building platforms are an essential part of augmented reality app development — they help you iron out how to bring your ideas to life. During the early stages of AR app development, you’ll need to think about things such as which platforms would suit your future app, how it will function and what are the app’s main purposes.

Augmented reality (AR) blends virtual elements with the real world. For example, it could bring an animated character into someone’s home or allow them to try on makeup without actually putting products on their skin. When used strategically, it can open opportunities for professionals in industries ranging from marketing to health care.

1. Vuforia Engine

This is a tool that the brand claims half a million developers use. Vuforia Engine has dynamic object recognition capabilities, and it can detect both image and shape-based targets. That means you could have users aim their smartphones at a particular spot on a poster or a product’s box to launch an AR experience, for example.

This tool also offers VuMarks. They can work like bar codes and enable marking pieces of equipment that have AR content associated with them. Or, a consumer product, such as a toy, might have a VuMark that unlocks bonus content.

Being a Vuforia Engine user also gives you access to a forum, allowing you to ask questions of fellow AR developers who may have similar goals or experienced challenges. If you’re just getting started with AR app development, you’re probably eager to get advice. You might want to know the best programming language for AR app development or how much time and money you should allow for an upcoming project.

($42/month and up)

2. EasyAR

One of the advantages of this AR tool is that it can track multiple 3D image targets at once.  Since EasyAR offers 3D object tracking and can handle several targets simultaneously, that benefit could make it easier for a person to enjoy AR content without aiming their device in an extremely specific spot.

One of EasyAR’s newest features is surface tracking. It could work well if developing AR content that brings virtual material into a room, such as to let people experiment with how new furniture looks, for example.

(Free version available, with $499.00 license key sold for Pro version)

3. ARCore

ARCore is a product that Google makes available to people who are interested in augmented reality app development. Something people don’t typically realize when they use AR apps is that the AR process has several phases, but each one happens quickly and seamlessly. This tool works with a smartphone’s camera to recognize features about the surroundings.

For example, a motion-tracking component allows the phone to understand its position in space, while another feature enables getting data about all types of surfaces, including their locations and sizes. ARCore can also determine the estimated amount of light in an environment. The documentation about the product gives the example of annotating a piece of art with information about the creator’s life. Even if you leave the room, the information will remain.



One of the AR trends for 2019 that shows no signs of slowing is an increase in AR apps for smartphones. That’s not surprising, considering how common smartphones are in today’s society. If a person has a chance to try AR on a smartphone, they’re arguably more likely to do it since there’s no need to buy special gadgets.

MAXST uses an AR algorithm made with the mobile environment in mind. It minimizes memory usage but still offers fast image and object recognition. Users can even augment the  environment surrounding a target to make an AR experience more immersive.

(Free trial with subscriptions starting at $599.00)

5. Apple ARKit 3

Apple was one of the companies that made headlines for being among the first to offer a free augmented reality app development option that was filled with features. You can use it to build a platform for iOS devices like iPhones and Macs. Now, the company recently unveiled its third version of the ARKit.

Of the most impressive capabilities it has is called People Occlusion. It allows AR content to move in front of or behind humans that are in the environment.  This tool can also track up to three faces at once, and there are opportunities to have live, collaborative AR sessions between people in different places, which could work well for multiplayer gaming.


Venture Into the World of Augmented Reality App Development

Regardless of whether you have the financial resources to purchase tools for AR app development or want to start with a free option, the content on this list gives you examples of what’s available.

Once you begin checking out the features and seeing how they could enhance your apps, it should be easier to understand why AR has gained momentum so quickly, and why people are so fascinated by what it can do.