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App Development
7 minutes read

Augmented Reality App Development: The Best Tools for the Job

By Jose Gomez
augmented reality app development
By Jose Gomez
App Development
7 minutes read

Augmented Reality app development might seem too complicated and HiTech for your business to achieve. However, Augmented Reality technology is more accessible than your organization might think. 

With the right software development kits (SDKs), your organization’s development team can build stunning Augmented Reality apps that deliver immersive AR experiences

An Augmented Reality app can be useful in multiple industries. For example, many people associate AR apps with mobile gaming, but Augmented Reality apps have been effectively used in several other ways besides gaming. 

This post will explain everything your organization needs to know about Augmented Reality app development, from the different types of AR apps your business can build to the various Augmented Reality SDK options available to your AR app developers. 

What Is an Augmented Reality App? 

An Augmented Reality app integrates audio and visual elements into a user’s real field of sight. For example, an AR app can load 2D or 3D objects and overlay them over captured content. 

For users, using an AR app is as simple as pointing their phone and scanning an item or environment. While AR technology sounds like science fiction, AR apps are far more common than you realize. 

For example, the popular social media app Snapchat has used Augmented Reality for years to allow users to place digital objects in their surroundings, use funny face filters, and more. 

Pokemon Go is a great example of an AR game. This AR app is one of the most successful mobile games ever developed. Both Snapchat and Pokemon Go have been available for several years, and AR app development capabilities have only improved in this time. 

The Different Types of AR Apps

There are several different types of AR apps. The shape Augmented Reality app development takes for your project will depend on your organization’s goals. Before AR app development begins, it is helpful to understand the different types of AR apps, including:

  • Location-based Augmented Reality
  • Marker-based Augmented Reality
  • Projection Augmented Reality 
  • Superimposition Augmented Reality 

Location-Based Augmented Reality 

Location-based AR apps, or markerless Augmented Reality, are the most common AR apps

Instead of using markers to generate AR content, location-based apps use the device’s GPS, compass, accelerometer, and other location detectors to generate AR objects based on the user’s current location.

The Augmented Reality app Pokemon Go uses location-based Augmented Reality to show users specific Pokemon based on their physical location and surroundings. 

Marker-Based Augmented Reality 

Marker-based AR apps rely on image recognition or markers to generate virtual objects. For example, the popular AR app Snapchat uses object recognition to generate face filters. 

Marker-based AR apps can use 3D objects like a face or 2D objects like a QR code for image recognition. Augmented Reality app developers have to preset AR content for each scanned item.

For example, AR apps that rely on QR and barcode scanning will have predetermined content for each code. 

Projection Augmented Reality 

Projection AR apps utilize visual odometry and complex algorithms to identify an object’s precise location and perform specific actions. A projection AR app relies on input from multiple sensors. 

Projection AR app technology is commonly used in assisted parking systems in cars and in engineering to help architects and engineers study an environment before construction. However, projection Augmented Reality won’t often be something you will find in a mobile app.

Projection AR apps are more complex than most consumer mobile apps. 

Superimposition Augmented Reality  

Superimposition AR apps take a real-world image and overlay it with AR content. These types of AR apps are generally used in medicine and healthcare. 

Doctors and nurses can use a superimposition AR app to get a clear image of an area and timely data or information overlaid on top of it. Superimposition Augmented Reality is also the technology used in smart glasses. 

The Tools Used for Augmented Reality App Development 

Developing an Augmented Reality app might seem more complicated than it is. However, AR app development is within your organization’s reach with the right tools and technologies. 

Augmented Reality development is made possible through the use of a software development kit (SDK). An SDK is like a toolbox that includes everything you need for the task. 

There are several different SDKs used to build Augmented Reality applications. It is important to understand what your organization’s goal for its AR app is before deciding on an SDK, as each one is a bit different. 

The top SDKs used in Augmented Reality application development are:

  • Vuforia 
  • ARToolKit
  • Apple ARKit
  • Google ARCore


Vuforia is one of the most popular SDKs in Augmented Reality app development. The Vuforia SDK is capable of identifying and tracking image targets and 3D objects in real-time, which makes it the perfect tool for creating AR apps. 

In addition, Vuforia can recognize multiple objects and support text recognition. This SDK can be used to turn static images into full-motion videos. 

Vuforia provides the Unity plugin that can be used to create and place virtual objects. This Augmented Reality SDK supports iOS, Android, and Windows platforms. It also supports smart glasses and cloud recognition. 

Vuforia offers free and premium subscription plans. To get a price on this SDK, you need to contact Vuforia to learn more, as they do not publish pricing. 


ARToolKit was one of the first AR development SDKs used to develop mobile apps. ARToolKit is an open-source library, so it is a free AR development tool that your business can utilize. 

ARToolKit can detect real camera positions using markers or 3D objects in real-time. This SDK supports a wide range of platforms, including macOS, Linux, Windows, iOS, and Android. In addition, ARToolKit supports Unity plugin integration, cloud recognition, and smart glasses.

If your organization is interested in exploring Augmented and Virtual Reality but unsure if it is ready to invest financial resources, ARToolKit is a great place to start.

Apple ARKit

ARKit is the SDK of choice for native iOS AR development. If you want to build an Augmented Reality app for iOS, ARKit is the best SDK because it can fully utilize the unique device and OS-specific features of iPhones and iPads. 

ARKit does not support cloud recognition, but it does support smart glasses, Unity, and Unreal. In addition, ARKit is free to download and use. Your organization won’t find a better AR application development tool for iOS. 

Google ARCore 

ARCore is the SDK of choice for native Android AR development. ARCore can also be used to develop AR apps for iOS, which makes it more flexible than ARKit. 

ARCore has been lauded for its AR application development capabilities thanks to its robust ability to detect real-world lighting conditions, measure items, motion track, detect angles, and more. 

ARCore does not support cloud recognition, but it does support Unity and smart glasses. In addition, ARCore is free to use. 

Final Thoughts 

Building Augmented Reality apps does not have to be a difficult endeavor for your organization. Adding AR capabilities to your organization’s applications is easy when you use an SDK. 

If you want to learn more about building an AR solution for your organization, reach out to an experienced app development partner that has Augmented Reality app development experience, like Koombea.

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