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How to Develop Augmented Reality Apps

February 9, 2023

How to Develop Augmented Reality Apps: Benefits and Pitfalls

Augmented reality is advancing rapidly, and it will soon conquer the tech market. If you'd like to learn how to create an AR application, this article is a must-read.

Dasha Rizoy

Head of Business Development

The recent technology trends vary widely. Some people are still wondering how to build an Augmented Reality app like Clubhouse and some are moving on to more future-proof trends like AR. Augmented reality may not be as widely spread as virtual reality, but it’s certainly a rising trend in the realm of technology. In recent years, industries in several sectors have adopted augmented reality as the means to achieve their goals. We're sure you've already seen or used an app that enhances the real world with interactive, digital elements. That's bound to continue with increasing speed because augmented reality applications enhance the potential for audience engagement.

In this article, we are going to talk about the most crucial aspects of AR development like its benefits for your business, the potential drawback that you may face, the tech stack, and costs. 

What is Augmented Reality, and How Does It Work?

AR app development, as one would naturally expect, is a matter of detail. To do it correctly—to use the technology to reach the user in a way nothing else can—is to cover all the specifics and contingencies. First, though, let’s talk about the term "AR" and what it really means. Augmented reality is the technology used to superimpose virtual objects over the real world in real-time. In other words, augmented reality combines the physical and virtual realms in a way that's transparent to the user. Seeing is believing, as the saying goes, and nowhere is it truer than in the world of AR.

Augmented reality requires the use of technical systems, including a camera and dedicated software that analyzes the given space and places digital objects within it. So, generally, the process is as follows:

  • The camera captures an image of the space in its field of view.

  • Depending on the type of Augmented Reality app, it figures out how to place the object in that field of view.

  • The object is positioned by the app, and the user sees the result.

These processes take place concurrently, making possible a level of interaction that's stunningly realistic.

You may have a fundamental question: How does AR differ from VR? The answer is simple: Augmented reality places digital objects within the image of an actual environment. Virtual reality (VR), however, creates a digital environment and brings you there by means of a device such as VR glasses.

Market Trends and Insights

The following statistics from trusted sources demonstrate the growing popularity and influence of augmented reality:

Augmented Reality trends and Insights

Those remarkable statistics indicated that augmented reality has become widespread in certain business areas. Let's look at the most successful AR market players and see what they offer.

The Leading AR Apps

Most industries continue to explore the potential of AR technology, but some applications have earned the trust of users around the world:

  • IKEA Place

Obviously, this Augmented Reality app is dedicated to home decor and interior design. IKEA Place lets the user choose a piece of furniture or a decor element (the app has more than 2,000 items) and virtually place it in the prospective room. The user can also move the object around and change its size to maintain its scale within the space.

IKEA Augmented Reality app
  • GIPHY World

This app adds a wide range of colors to the real world. It adds entertaining, eye-catching GIFs to the screen and turns any room into a festival of fun. There's a collection of prepared sets for various holidays from birthdays to Christmas, but users can also add images from the company's official website.

The Augmented Reality app adding the GIFs
  • Snapchat

We know Snapchat as a fun social media with a focus on visual content and amusing, dynamic lenses. However, Snapchat also has an AR studio called Snap AR, which lets users create AR lenses and use them in the app. To date, 2.5 million lenses have been created by Snapchat users, and the number continues to rise.

Snapchat app using AR filters
  • Augment

Augmented reality isn't for entertainment alone, because it's also useful in e-commerce. Augment makes that point beautifully. It's a service that lets owners of online shops visualize their products and display them to customers. It’s also helpful in regard to sales in a given field or territory, where temporary offline vending will take place.

Augment app screens
  • YouCam Makeup

Another way to use AR is to experiment with a new look without having to buy cosmetics first. YouCam Makeup lets the user test the makeup options before buying one or more products. It makes for a more informed purchase because the range of brands and products is vast.

YouCam Makeup app screens

Types of Augmented Reality Applications

An AR app development begins with a question: How do you want your app to function? You and your team can choose one of the following approaches to AR functionality:

Types of augmented reality applications
  • Marker-based: You create a real-world object such as a QR-code, an image, or a card, and then you place special trigger markers in it. When the camera scans those markers, the Augmented Reality app displays the desired scene.

  • Location-based: An application collects and analyzes data about the user’s location (i.e., the immediate environment) and then places the virtual object within it. If you remember the Pokemon GO game, you understand how this type of AR app works.

  • Projection-based: This software projects light on a real object to make it look a certain way. The projection can be interactive too, meaning it will respond to touch or to the movement of the real object.

  • Outlining: These apps are used in cars to help drivers park more easily and safely. They can also be used in construction to facilitate calculations for effective planning.

Let's talk about how those types of AR apps can help your business.

Domain-Based Strategy: The Benefits of an AR App

The majority of AR solutions are associated with gaming and entertainment. It’s obvious: Games place few limits on the imagination, so the potential for options is immense. We’ve already mentioned Pokemon GO, of course. It was a sensational hit just a few years ago. However, other industries have understood the potential of this technology and are using it to enhance user engagement:

AR and VR in various industries
  • Healthcare

The use of AR software in healthcare isn't new, but there are still myriad options for its use in research. Today, many AR apps are used to train specialists and plan surgeries. Visualization makes such processes easier, safer, quicker, and more accurate.

Using AR apps in Healthcare
  • Video games

AR offers many benefits to the video game industry, including enhanced gaming experiences, increased interactivity, improved accessibility, new game mechanics, and expanded audiences. For example, AR enhances the gaming experience by adding a new layer of immersion, allowing players to engage with the game world in new and exciting ways. It can improve accessibility by allowing players to play video games without the need for traditional gaming hardware, such as a console or a mouse and keyboard.

  • Education

VR can do a great deal for learning, which is inherently interactive. With augmented reality, the process of acquiring information and skills becomes more memorable and engaging. Students can see 3-D models of objects and interact with them instead of simply looking at two-dimensional pictures in books. This makes AR particularly useful in the fields of biology, physics, chemistry, and the arts.

  • Retail and e-commerce

Although e-commerce has changed the way people purchase goods and services, there are still some types of products that consumers want to see and touch before they decide whether to buy. AR is ideally suited to that purpose. For example, the user can try on clothing and makeup in real-time without having to visit a brick-and-mortar store.

Retail and e-commerce use AR
  • Marketing

Many brands use augmented reality for the purpose of promotion. Sure, it doesn’t look like "Blade Runner 2049," but some cases are worth mentioning. For example, Lacoste boosted sales with an Augmented Reality app that used virtual try-ons, and Patron Tequila made a promotional app with which the user could have his or her own field of agave plants.

  • Military

Augmented Reality (AR) has many benefits in the military industry, and has the potential to revolutionize the way military personnel train, plan, and execute their missions. For example, AR enhances the training experience by allowing military personnel to practice complex procedures in a simulated environment, helping to improve their skills and knowledge. It can reduce the cost of training by eliminating the need for expensive equipment and physical training facilities, and by allowing military personnel to train in a simulated environment. Moreover, AR can increase the safety of military personnel by allowing them to train in a simulated environment, reducing the risk of injury or harm during training exercises.

  • Real estate

Architecture and real estate offer considerable promise in regard to augmented reality. With the help of three-dimensional modeling, it’s easy to understand whether a structural design will fit a given location. 

Generally, regardless of your business area, the creation of an AR application will contribute to your communication with clients. It will also provide access to new opportunities.

AR App Development Tools

There are plenty of software development kits (SDKs) that will help you and your team build an augmented reality app. Sure, the tech stack you ultimately choose will be contingent upon the app’s specifications, complexity, and purpose, but some tools have already demonstrated their value in the creation of AR solutions.

  • Vuforia

This is one of the most popular SDKs for mobile AR development because it tracks marks in real-time and places objects in an image of the actual environment. Additionally, the SDK supports text recognition with an extensive vocabulary.

  • Google ARCore

Google’s AR framework gives you the power to create engaging, attractive compositions. ARCore can track motion, analyze the lighting in the room and define the angles. These features contribute a lot to the realism of virtual objects.

  • Apple ARKit

This framework has a feature called Visual Inertial Odometry, which precisely tracks the real-world environment so as to position objects with extreme accuracy. It's also very good in regard to face tracking.

  • Wikitude 

This SDK was originally built for use in the creation of location-based AR apps. However, Wikitude gradually acquired image recognition, tracking, and the Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) feature, which makes it one of the best SDKs for AR apps.

  • Kudan

The Kudan SDK can help you create marker-based and markerless apps. With the latter approach, it uses elements (such as corners and edges) within the environment as points and boundaries.

Here’s a comparison table of the tools we've mentioned:

VuforiaSDKAndroid, iOS, UWP, smart glassesNoYesYes> $99/mo.
Google ARCoreFrameworkAndroid, iOS, smart glassesYesYesYesFree
Apple ARKitFrameworkiOS, smart glassesYesYesYesFree / > $50/mo.
WikitudeSDKAndroid, iOS, UWP, smart glassesYesYesYes> 2,490 €/yr.
KudanSDKAndroid, iOSYesYesYesFree / >$1,500/yr.

The AR App Development Process

It's important to define the process of creating an Augmented Reality app because it will give you a clear vision of your goals. The following steps should be completed if you want to make a successful app:

  1. Decide on your niche and target audience: It will help you understand what features to implement and how to approach the market. Additionally, research your competitors to know what the market already offers.

  2. Choose the SDK: We’ve already discussed the most popular kinds in the previous section. Get a trusted expert to help.

  3. Design and develop: Basically, this is where you'll create the product. We recommend starting with an MVP in order to see if your solution is what the audience will want.

  4. Test: You certainly don’t want to launch an Augmented Reality app that freezes and has bugs. Confirm the performance of your product before showing it to potential users.

  5. Launch and support: Once your app is available, monitor audience feedback and quickly respond to any issues that arise.

The AR Development Process

Augmented Reality App Development Cost

It’s hard to say the exact budget for Augmented Reality application development since it depends on many factors that you must take into account: 

1. The type of Augmented Reality app

Some types of Augmented Reality apps are more complex and require more resources to develop, while others are relatively simple and can be developed with fewer resources. Some of the factors that can influence the cost of AR app development based on the type of app include:

  • Complexity of AR features: To create Augmented Reality apps that require advanced AR features, such as 3D object recognition or tracking, you’ll need more complex development resources, which leads to higher costs.

  • Customization: Apps that require significant customization, such as unique branding or user interfaces, can also increase the cost of development, as they require specialized skills and resources.

  • Platform compatibility: AR apps that are designed to work across multiple platforms, such as iOS and Android, can also be more complex and require more resources to develop, leading to higher costs.

  • App size: Larger Augmented Reality apps, such as games or educational apps, can also require more resources and therefore can be more expensive to develop.

Integration with other services: AR apps that require integration with other services, such as databases or cloud services, can also increase the cost of development.

2. Tech stack

The tech stack refers to the collection of technologies, frameworks, and tools used to build an AR app. The choice of tech stack can significantly impact the cost of Augmented Reality app development, as some tech stacks are more complex and require more resources to implement than others. Some of the tech stack factors that can influence the cost of AR app development include:

  1. AR SDK: One of the main costs associated with AR app development is the use of an augmented reality software development kit (SDK). AR SDKs provide developers with the tools and resources needed to build AR apps, but they can be expensive, especially for high-end AR SDKs that offer advanced features.

  2. Development platform: The choice of development platform, such as iOS or Android, can also impact the cost of AR app development. For example, developing for iOS often requires a higher level of expertise and specialized skills, which can increase the cost of development.

  3. Framework and tools: The choice of development framework and tools, such as Unity or Unreal Engine, can also impact the cost of AR app development. Some frameworks and tools are more complex and require more resources to implement, leading to higher costs.

Integration with other services: The choice of integration with other services, such as databases or cloud services, can also impact the AR app development cost.

3. The development agency’s hourly rate

The development agency’s hourly rate is another important factor that can impact the cost of augmented reality (AR) app development. Different development agencies may charge different hourly rates for their services, based on a variety of factors such as the agency’s location, experience, and expertise. Some of the factors that can influence the development agency’s hourly rate and, in turn, the cost of AR app development include:

  • Location: Development agencies located in regions with higher costs of living and labor, such as North America or Western Europe, may charge higher hourly rates than agencies located in other regions.

  • Experience and expertise: Development agencies with more experience and expertise in AR app development may charge higher hourly rates than agencies with less experience or expertise.

Size and reputation of the agency: Larger, more established development agencies may also charge higher hourly rates than smaller, less established agencies.

4. Post-launch processes

Post-launch processes are a significant factor that influences the cost of creating an augmented reality (AR) app or creating AR apps. These processes include ongoing maintenance, updates, bug fixes, and user support, and they can have a significant impact on the overall cost of AR app development.

  1. Maintenance: Ongoing maintenance is required to create AR apps and keep them functioning smoothly and to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of users. This can include fixing bugs, updating software, and addressing compatibility issues with new devices and operating systems.

  2. Updates: Regular updates are necessary to keep AR apps relevant and up-to-date, and to address user feedback and requests. This can involve adding new features, improving existing functionality, and fixing any problems that arise.

  3. Bug fixes: AR apps are complex software applications that can be prone to bugs and other issues. Regular bug fixes are necessary to maintain the stability and reliability of Augmented Reality apps and to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of users.

  4. User support: Providing user support is an important part of creating your own AR app. This can involve answering user questions, addressing technical issues, and providing assistance with using the app.

If we estimate the time needed for basic AR application development, it will look like this:

Preparatory analysis100-120
Basic features (moving, rotating, scaling)150-250

Because the average hourly rate in Poland is $50/hour, the first version of a simple AR app with basic functionality or AR app MVP will cost approximately $40,000 to $50,000. However, a more sophisticated application with greater functionality will cost $100,000 or more. Please note: This sum doesn’t include post-launch support.

Pitfalls of AR Mobile App Development You May Face

Developing Augmented Reality (AR) apps can be a complex and challenging process. We have already covered almost all aspects of AR development. However, there is one more important aspect to mention: What risks you may potentially face while working with this technology. Here are a few of the major pitfalls of AR app development:

Pitfalls of AR mobile app development
  • Hardware capabilities: Despite smartphones becoming more and more powerful, AR may not work on certain devices or work with lower performance metrics. 

  • Technical challenges and limitations: Augmented Reality app development requires advanced technical skills and a deep understanding of both software and hardware components. Technical challenges such as ensuring AR content can be viewed in real-time, and limitations such as the limited processing power of mobile devices, can make AR app development a challenging and time-consuming process.

  • Legal issues: There aren’t enough regulations on content produced by AR so there could be conflicts. Augmented Reality apps collect and store large amounts of personal data, and as such, there is a risk of data breaches and privacy violations. This can cause significant harm to users and result in serious legal and financial consequences for developers.

  • Costs: AR technology is still in its early stages and requires specialized hardware and software components, which can increase development costs. Additionally, the need for specialized AR development skills can also contribute to the overall cost of a project. Moreover, the more platforms you want your app to support and more actions to do, the more you’d pay for development and maintenance. 

  • Limited user adoption: Despite the potential for AR to enhance the user experience, there is a risk that users may not embrace the technology, or that it may not be widely adopted. This can limit the potential success of AR apps and make it difficult for developers to achieve a return on their investment.

In conclusion, developing AR apps can be a complex and challenging process, but with careful planning and execution, developers can overcome these pitfalls and create successful and innovative AR apps. It's important for developers to be aware of the potential pitfalls and to work closely with a team of experts to mitigate them.

5 Tips for Developing Successful AR Apps

Augmented Reality technology is revolutionizing the way we interact with the world around us. AR apps bring digital content to life, enhancing the user experience and opening up new possibilities for businesses and consumers alike. Here are a few tips to help ensure a successful AR app development project:

  1. Define clear goals: Start by clearly defining the goals and objectives of the AR app. This will help ensure that the development process is focused and that the end result is a product that meets the needs of users and stakeholders.

  2. User testing: User testing is a crucial step in the development process. It allows developers to gather feedback and make improvements to the AR app before it is released to the public. This helps ensure that the AR app is easy to use and provides a high-quality user experience.

  3. Cross-platform compatibility: AR apps are often used on multiple devices and platforms, so it's important to ensure that the AR app is compatible with as many devices as possible. This will help increase the potential reach of the AR app and ensure a wider audience.

  4. Collaborate with a team of experts: Developing an AR app requires advanced technical skills and expertise, so it's important to work with a team of experts to ensure that the AR app is developed to the highest standards. This can include AR developers, graphic designers, and user experience experts, among others.

  5. Stay up-to-date with AR technology: AR technology is constantly evolving, so it's important to stay up-to-date with the latest developments and advancements. This will help ensure that the AR app is innovative and meets the changing needs of users and the market.

By following these tips, developers can increase their chances of success and ensure that their AR app is well-received by users and provides a high-quality user experience. It's important to approach AR app development with careful planning and execution to ensure that the end result is a successful and innovative product.


Augmented reality encompasses a wide range of usage cases, but many more will emerge in the coming months. So, by experimenting in an effort to offer something better you'll attract potential customers who want a unique experience. This is your opportunity to become a market leader and get the benefits of adopting mobile AR for your business.

🕶️ What is augmented reality?

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that displays virtual objects over the real world in real-time.

🕶️ What's the difference between AR and VR?

Augmented reality places digital objects into the real environment, but virtual reality immerses the user in a fictional world.

🕶️ How can AR benefit my business?

AR can significantly boost your sales and make communication with the audience more engaging.

🕶️ What's the cost of AR app development?

Depending on the app’s complexity, the cost of AR application development can vary from $30,000 to $100,000 or more.

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