Apple now lets you purchase products in augmented reality
Updated: Feb 27
In 2018 Apple launched 'Quick Look', which is a feature for iOS devices that lets you view 3D or AR products in your own space.
Quick Look can be embedded into apps or websites and enables users to see incredibly detailed renderings, with reflections of real world surroundings in shiny virtual objects.
Seeing what furniture might look like in a room is one of the go-to examples of what augmented reality is good for, and there’s been various retailers offering this service via mobile apps over the last couple of years. When you’ve got someone interested in making a purchase and poking around the item in a web browser, asking them to download a mobile app presents friction in the path to purchase,
When Quick Look launched, it was a big step forward forward for AR in removing this friction. As creators we no longer needed to use mobile apps to showcase 3D assets, this could be done through the web, opening up access to anyone with an iOS device. Using a phone or a tablet and with a single tap of a button, users could view 3D objects in the real world right in front of them.
It's simple too. Using a 3D model (as a USDZ, a file format built in collaboration with Pixar), Apple leverages ARKit to render it as it would appear in the real world, handling everything from scaling to lighting and shadows. Easy!
Initially Quick Look was great for visualising products in 3D or AR, but not much else. Fast forward to 2020, and this feature now has much more purpose for both businesses and consumers. A recent Apple update has added interactivity, so you can now change the colour of the 3D object, check stock availability, contact customer support and more importantly, you can purchase the product via integration with Apple Pay.
Apple is also quietly rolling support for spatial audio into Quick Look in the latest developer builds of iOS and iPad OS. Enabling 3D products to emanate sound will further enhance the utility and overall experience for this feature. Rev the engine of a car or listen to the sound of a new set of speakers.
With every new feature addition, the tool becomes more useful for retailers in converting sales for their products. Build.com found that people who checked out an item in AR were 22% less likely to return it. Suddenly, product visualisation is becoming an essential tool in the path to purchase, whilst also helping to reduce return rates.
Big international retailers like Home Depot, Wayfair, Bang & Olufsen and 1-800-Flowers have already started to integrate this feature into their online platforms and we can expect many more to follow suit.
The next step for retailers will be to digitise their entire catalogue of products so they have AR ready- assets.
The benefits of AR in retail are clear. As creators we can now showcase what a product looks like in full scale and size, whilst giving consumers the ability to check colours, stock availability, hear the sound and then seamlessly click to purchase. As this process becomes easier and more rewarding, we will see AR become fully integrated with all eCommerce businesses, radically changing the shopping experience for consumers.
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