Augmented Reality Apps vs WebAR: Pros and Cons
AR has come a long way from adding simple graphics as an overlay to images, through to simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) experiences that are rendered in real time in a user’s environment. This being said, augmented reality today is dependent on the smartphone camera, in order to place customized text, video, 2D or 3D content into the user’s real-world view. While custom designed augmented reality apps have been around for a while, recent developments have been building upon WebAR – an alternative to native app-based AR experiences – that can be run directly from a browser, without the need to install any app. This has resulted in a hot debate amongst both the marketing and developer communities on which is a better choice, and this blog attempts to take a neutral look at these.
But before we go further, let us understand WebAR in more detail.
WebAR is a relatively new development, allowing us to deliver AR experiences using the native web browsers of safari and chrome across devices and operating systems. Augmented reality mobile apps, on the other hand, need to be downloaded and installed onto a smartphone. WebAR doesn’t have any such mandatory requirements for being able to engage with the AR experience. Practically anybody with a smart camera and an internet connection will be able to interact with your AR campaign anytime and anywhere.
Engagement without limits – the key WebAR advantage
This reduces the dependency on developing, testing and uploading a custom AR app on to app stores, and spending precious marketing resources to have adequate downloads. This works out well for short term AR campaigns, opening up opportunities for more companies to create AR experiences for their target audiences, without having to go through the longer route above, and at a fraction of the cost. For marketers, this can also boost the ROI on AR campaigns, as users can directly experience the content without download. Moreover, the experience can be hosted on their own websites as well, which can aid web traffic and visitor time spent.
Another important advantage of WebAR is the uniformity of the experience across all devices, platforms and operating systems, allowing marketers to cast their AR net to a wider target group.
However, this doesn’t signal the end for augmented reality apps.
Richer, immersive experiences are still the domain of native AR apps
Despite its advantages, WebAR still lags behind in terms of delivering highly immersive, high fidelity AR experiences as compared to augmented reality apps. There would also be certain limitations in terms of the features, interactivity and engagement that can be created, as the content created needs to be compatible with a multitude of devices, browsers and operating systems. Moreover, browser-based AR could only work well with good internet connectivity and could fall flat in its absence.
And this is where native apps really score. With a custom created AR app, you will definitely have more control over not only which type of devices can have access to the content for the best experience, but also over offering an option for offline use as well. Moreover, apps can offer much richer user data and insights, which can help you refine your AR campaign and improve upon it. You would also have the chance to build an engaged virtual community through a native app, which would not be the case with WebAR. So if you are planning a long term AR campaign, or want to offer a very customized experience to your users, then investing in building your own augmented reality app makes sense. You could also consider exploring Dreemar’s intuitive AR platform, to create customized AR experiences easily, and enjoy all the benefits of a native app without having to build one.
To sum it up, while there are some obvious pros and cons to both options, it would be best to decide on the ideal choice on a case to case or project basis. If you are looking to engage at scale for a short burst of time, WebAR can be a good option. However, if you are looking to create and deliver very niche AR experiences over a prolonged period of time, having an app would be a better choice.
At Dreemar, we enjoy bringing everything AR to life, and would be happy to assist you decide on the best way your company can capitalize on this technology. If you’d like to discuss, feel free to give us a call on 03 7505 0832.