iPhone and iPad users that have tried our new demo report feeling frustrated that Android users are already able to access the web of the future, while they cannot. Many users are surprised to find out that the expensive hardware inside their iOS device is easily capable of running the latest open web standards, yet commercial decisions made by Apple have left their high end iDevices looking old and outdated.
This demo shows that you can now run Augmented Reality within your standard web browser. For fun we've presented the latest projects from the weekly Kickstarter "Projects We Love" newsletter as AR images, floating in the real world around you.
You can try this demo for yourself at kstartAR.buildAR.com. If you open this on a modern Android device using the latest version of Chrome, Firefox or Opera you'll see a rich combination of Augmented Reality and the web which is called the Augmented Web.
However, if you open the exact same page using an iPhone or iPad you'll find that it works but that you can only see a very limited user experience. These limitations are not there because we have chosen to make it work this way. These limitations are there because Apple have made a decision to put the commercial in terests of their AppStore ahead of their customers. They have consciously decided not to support the latest open web standards.
These open web standards have been widely implemented by the other mainstream browser vendors and have also been shown to work on iOS based devices. However Apple's tight control over the iOS platform and their AppStore have ensured that these standards are simply not available to iDevice owners.
Technical background information
One of these open web standards is called WebGL. This allows web browsers to present interactive, 3D content without any plugins. Every iPhone and iPad owner I've spoken to is down right angry when they find out that advertisers can run WebGL on their iDevice. Yet as the person who paid for their iDevice, they are not able to. It only takes a few lines of code to enable WebGL on any iOS based web browser, but Apple's App Store restrictions have ensured that any app that does this will be rejected. Out of the box a new Android device supports WebGL. Out of the box a new iPhone doesn't, it's that simple.
Another example is WebRTC, a collection of new Web standards that makes it possible for web browsers to access the cameras and microphones on a device, among other things. Chrome, Firefox and Opera have implemented this on the Android platform and this is one of the key technologies that has enabled the Augmented Web. This is already available to over 1 Billion web browsers, yet Apple have chosen not to adopt it in Safari. In fact, a number of other apps have already show that this can already work on iOS, but Apple have not yet made this available as a standard feature. Of course Apple are free to make this decision. But again, out of the box a new Android device supports this. Out of the box a new iPhone doesn't.
One final example is the gyro based web standard called the DeviceOrientation API. This allows the Augmented Web to track how your mobile device is moving so it can keep the graphics in sync to create an immersive AR user experience. Apple claim they support this open web standard, however their implementation is measurably broken in a way that prevents developers from releasing these types of web apps on iDevices. Chrome, Firefox and Opera all provide standard compliant implementations of this API, yet Apple have not fixed their implementation of this in a very long time. This is yet another example of the out of the box iDevice experience falling well behind Android devices.
Please send a message to Apple asking them to unlock support for these open web standards.