Qualcomm’s Awesome Augmented Reality SDK Now Available For iOS

Back around July of last year, Qualcomm launched a software development kit for building Augmented Reality apps on Android. The idea was to allow Android developers to build all sorts of crazy AR stuff (like games and apps that render things in live 3D on top of a view pulled in through your device’s camera) without having to reinvent the wheel by coding up their own visual-recognition system. It is, for lack of a better word, awesome.

And now it’s available for iOS.

For those unfamiliar with Augmented Reality — or for those who just want to see something cool — check out this demo video I shot a year or so back:


Sometime in the past few hours, Qualcomm quietly rolled a beta release of the iOS-compatible SDK into their developer center. This came as a bit of a shock; Qualcomm had previously expressed that, while an iOS port would come sooner or later, their main focus was building this platform for devices running their Snapdragon chips (read: not Apple devices).

And yet, here we are. This first release of the SDK supports the iPhone 4, iPad 2, and fourth generation iPod Touch — none of which have Snapdragon CPUs in them. Furthermore, this release supports Unity (a WYSIWYG-style rapid game development tool) right off the bat, whereas the Android release didn’t get Unity support until a few months. Developers can also work in straight in Xcode if they so choose.

This platform lowers the “You must be this crazy of a developer to ride this ride” bar considerably, so expect an onslaught of Augmented Reality apps in the App Store before too long.

(Full disclosure: Qualcomm held a development contest focused on this platform last year. I entered on a whim, but placed just outside of the ranks that walked away with prizes. Probably didn’t need to be disclosed, but transparency for the win.)