The Best AR Software for Developers
Exploring the World of Free AR Software for Developers in 2023
Free AR software is becoming a staple in today’s tech landscape. As the consumer and business demand for extended reality soars, AR development tools are rapidly evolving. These tools are crucial in driving the augmented reality market’s growth, which boasts a current CAGR of 39.8%. While professional developers often prefer premium solutions, free and open-source alternatives are lowering the barrier to entry for beginners. These tools are not only ideal for experimenting with augmented reality but also for exploring a potential career in AR development.
Exploring Free AR Software for Developers: A Guide
AR development software, or “Augmented reality development platforms”, are software kits which empower developers to create 3D assets and components for augmented reality. With the right tools, developers can create position, track, and orient virtual objects in the context of the real world. Development tools often work alongside a wide variety of other software solutions in the technology world, from CMS (Content Management System) platforms to collaboration apps. Free AR Software, often offered on an open-source basis, allows developers seeking mixed reality and virtual production roles to experiment with unique features without incurring any costs. Although many free tools may lack some of the advanced capabilities of premium platforms, they offer an excellent entry point for beginners exploring the augmented reality space for the first time.
What are the Best Free AR Software Options in 2023?
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to choose the best Free AR software solutions in the modern world. The right option for you will depend on your desired career in augmented reality, the operating systems you use, and the specific features you need. We picked the options below based on their functionality, ease of use, and accessibility for beginners. Let’s dive in.
Ideal for developers interested in the growing world of mobile augmented reality, ARCore is an all-in-one free toolkit created by Google. The SDK offering includes a host of cross-platform APIs developers can use to build immersive experiences for iOS, Android, Unity, and the web. Designed with simplicity in mind, the ARCore solution includes a number of useful capabilities, including scene semantics powered by machine learning models and a depth API. It also benefits from a huge community of existing developers who share their experimentations online.
AR Core Free Software Features:
- Geospatial API for attaching assets to maps
- Machine learning for contextual environmental understanding
- Recording and playback options
- Persistent cloud anchors for indoor locations
- Depth APIs
- Streetscape geometry
- Light estimation
2. Apple ARKit
We can’t mention Google’s top free AR software solution without also mentioning the competing solution from Apple. Now in its sixth iteration, ARKit is primarily used by iOS developers to build AR games and apps for phones and iPads. It uses visual inertial odometry technology to identify surrounding environments and even supports 4K video. ARKit 6 also introduces new location anchors to cities and features improved motion capture capabilities for truly immersive experiences. Plus, there are forums, videos, SDKs, betas, and endless documentation available to support virtual production experts.
ARKit Free Software Features:
- 4K video for integrating real-world and digital content
- Motion tracking with instant image capture
- Depth IPA with LiDAR scanning technology
- Scene geometry and people occlusion
- Instant LiDAR scanner for plane detection
- Ear, eye, and hand tracking
Previously known as “EchoAR,” Echo3D is a company committed to empowering developers with a variety of integrated tools for innovation. The platform combines 3D asset optimization, management, and delivery with advanced model conversion, compression APIs, and more. There’s support for both email and Slack included in the platform, so developers can collaborate with their team members in real time. Plus, even the free plan includes over 4,500 free 3D models to help you start building metaverse-ready environments.
Echo3D Free Software Features:
- Integrations with email and Slack
- Basic analytics for 3D models
- 3D asset management, delivery, and optimization
- 3D Backend-as-a-service
- Advanced model conversion
- Embeddable and shareable WebAR viewer
- 45,000+ free 3D models
Available in both free and premium formats, Vuforia is a popular AR software development engine. The solution combines computer vision technology with intelligent design tools to help users track, create, and recognize 3D objects for AR apps. Plus, Vuforia also offers access to cloud services, so users can easily store and share their assets online. Vuforia provides APIs for multiple programming languages and supports native development options for Unity, iOS, and Android. Its premium version can even be paired with production support, barcode scanners, and advanced cloud storage.
Vuforia Free Software Features:
- Marked and markerless AR experiences
- APIs for multiple programming languages
- Image targets and multi-target options
- Cloud storage for up to 1,000 images and recordings
- 20 model and area targets
- Native support for Android, iOS, Unity, and UPW
5. SparkAR (Spark Studio)
If you’re interested in AR and VR job opportunities that involve elements of marketing and promotion, you might find yourself using SparkAR. Created by Meta, Spark is a fully functional toolkit for building and sharing AR experiences at scale. It includes templates for beginners, as well as custom coding options for advanced developers. Like many other free AR software solutions, SparkAR comes with tons of useful learning resources, including an active community, tutorials, and API docs. Plus, the Meta suite can integrate with a wide range of tools and services.
Spark Free Software Features:
- Templates and patch editors for immersive experiences
- Analytics and reporting tools
- Animation options for AR effects
- Facebook and Instagram integrations
- Depth mapping
- Audio and haptic integrations
- Target tracking
ARToolKit+ is an open-source and free AR software development solution based on the original “ARToolKit”. Designed to help developers create immersive mobile app experiences, as well as full metaverse interactions for smart glasses, this is one of the most popular platforms around. The open-source solution comes with modular code you can adjust to suit your specific needs, as well as integrations with GPS, compass, and camera calibration utilities. You can also access a compatible SDK for iOS, Mac, Android, and Unity 3D.
ARToolKit+ Free Software Features:
- Database image target manager
- NFT real-world image tracking
- Modular open-source code
- OpenGL ES2.X support
- Optical see-through support
- Unity 3D SDK
Blender is more than just an AR development software platform; it’s a comprehensive open-source toolkit for graphic design and innovation. The 3D graphics suite supports everything from animation to the creation and rendering of 3D models. Plus, there are digital sculpting tools, storyboards, and VFX solutions to tap into as well. With plenty of useful guidance for beginners and support for an extensive Python API, the Blender ecosystem is one of the most popular in the AR markets. It’s also available to access without any subscription fees at all.
Blender Free Software Features:
- 3D content and asset rendering
- A comprehensive modelling toolkit
- Digital sculpting tools
- Animation and rigging tools
- Story Artist (for 3D drawing)
- Video editing tools
- Integrations with multiple pipeline products
Start your Journey into AR with FourPointZero
Free AR software offers developers an exciting opportunity to build the skills they need to excel in the new world of extended reality. If you’re looking for an opportunity to work in the evolving augmented reality space, all of the tools above will give you a free way to experiment with the design and development of unique apps and experiences. Once you’ve honed your skills, you can work with FourPointZero, the leading recruitment company for Metaverse and XR company, to take the next step in your career. Our team of expert recruiters connect skilled professionals with innovative companies across the UK, Europe, and the US. To learn more about how we can help you find your next AR job or to access our assistance in finding the ultimate hire for your business, contact FourPointZero today.
Is AR Software free?
While there are plenty of premium AR software development options out there, beginners can also begin experimenting with free and open-source solutions. Some free solutions do come with limitations in terms of functionality and cloud storage, however.
How do I become an AR developer?
Becoming an AR development is easy with the help of FourPointZero. We can help connect skilled professionals with innovators and AR companies around the world. However, we do recommend building your knowledge in computer science and programming.
What is AR in software development?
AR Software development solutions help creators blend the real and virtual world in apps for the web, mobile, and smart glasses. Augmented reality superimposes digital content over the real world, while virtual reality immerses users in a new digital environment.