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Dive Brief:

  • Apple plans to roll out new augmented reality capabilities for mobile apps as part of an ARKit 2.0 software release that is likely to be announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) early next week, according to a Bloomberg report.
  • The ARKit update is part of the broader iOS 12 software update that is due to be outlined at WWDC and made available to iOS device users sometime later this year.
  • Also at the event, Apple could discuss plans to help developers create cross-platform apps, meaning that development teams would only need to create a single version of an app that could run across all iOS devices, including iPhone, iPad and mac desktop, according to Mac Rumors.

Dive Insight:

It’s not so clear at this point what retail-relevant feature ARKit 2.0 may include. The Bloomberg report mentions some AR features specific to gaming, but also the ability to place an object virtually and have it remain in place, which could have implications for the retail AR apps we have seen so far, in which users often move around items in an AR viewing window.

Regardless, it’s noteworthy that Apple is continuing to enhance and refine software that enabled a throng of retailers to launch new AR apps just last fall. It’s still very early in the evolution of those apps, but this rumored update likely brings with it the feedback of retailers, customers and other developers, which could go a long way in moving AR further into the public eye.

The 2017 rollout of iOS 11 and ARKit also coincided with the launch of the iPhone X with FaceID facial recognition technology. The iPhone X turned out to be a welcome addition to the mobile shopping scene, as iPhone X users spent more than double the amount of other smartphone shoppers last holiday season, according to a Mobile Marketer report.

Next week’s set of announcements will reportedly not include a major device unveiling, but we may hear more about FaceID and the ability for it to be used in landscape mode, which means it could be more easily used on devices like the iPad for functions like transaction authentication.

Apple’s plan to help enable cross-platform apps is also intriguing, and anything that could help streamline app development and expand apps across more device platforms is likely to impact retailers.

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