The early winner taking advantage of Apple’s next big thing is a free app that uses your iPhone’s camera to place a cuddly pet dragon in the real world around you.
Augmented reality is a technology that lets you see virtual elements in the real world. ARKit makes it easier for app developers to put things like virtual dragons on top of tables, or allow your iPhone’s camera to work as a ruler.
Sensor Tower’s analysis is one of the first looks at what ARKit apps are doing well and which ones people seem to be willing to pay for. Apps that focus on an augmented-reality experiences and use ARKit have been downloaded 3 million times since September 19, according to Sensor Tower.
53% of those downloads have been for games, according to Sensor Tower’s analysis, including “AR Dragon,” which lets users train and grow a pet dragon, choosing when to give him food or play with him, for example.
The second largest category is utility apps, like Ikea Place, which lets you see how furniture would look in your home, and TapMeasure, Occipital’s app for measuring the size of objects.
Here are the top ARKit-only apps so far, according to Sensor Tower:
- Sensor Tower
The new fart app
However, ARKit apps haven’t become a sensation. For example, “AR Dragon” is only the no. 587 free game by downloads, according to Sensor Tower.
In comments earlier this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook compared the launch of ARKit to the launch of Apple’s App Store. He compared the early apps using ARKit to the early third-party apps for the iPhone, which were criticized for being gimmicks.
“Think back to 2008, when the App Store went live. There was the initial round of apps and people looked at them and said, ‘this is not anything, mobile apps are not going to take off,” Cook told the Independent.
“And then step by step things start to move. And it is sort of a curve, it was just exponential – and now you couldn’t imagine your life without apps. Your health is on one app, your financials, your shopping, your news, your entertainment – it’s everything,” he continued. “AR is like that. It will be that dramatic.”
ARkit gives Apple a way to see the possibilities of the technology using its giant developer base. Apple doesn’t often tinker in public, so instead, it’s letting software makers for the iPhone and iPad experiment.
At the same time, though, Apple has teams dedicated to building augmented-reality hardware, including smartglasses. Many technologists, including people inside Apple, believe that sufficiently advanced smartglasses may be able to replace all the screens in our lives – even the iPhone.
The Apple glasses are years away at the earliest. “Today I can tell you the technology itself doesn’t exist to do that in a quality way. The display technology required, as well as putting enough stuff around your face – there’s huge challenges with that,” Cook told the Independent.
But in the meantime, enthusiasts can now download apps that place cute and cuddly pet dragons in the real world.
Seen a particularly clever ARkit app? Email the author at email@example.com.