On the 3rd November Apple’s new iPhone, X launched, and it has been suggested this upgrade will have one of the most significant impacts on how we use our phones forever. The most significant feature update of this new model is that of the augmented reality functionality via the ARKit.

The concept of Augmented reality is not new. Many start-up ventures, brands and established industries have all been dipping their toe (albeit gradually) in the AR water since the term was coined by Tom Caudell in the 1990’s. However, the ease at which we can now access augmented realities via the new iPhone will be a game-changer. This coincides with a growing openness and interest of consumers in these forms immersive experiences. Look no further than the success of Pokemon-Go in 2016 to understand this shift. The app was downloaded more than 100 million times in its first month, reportedly earning $10m per day at the height of its popularity.

While Pokemon-Go had the advantage of being an already established and hugely popular game before it launched its AR feature, brand new AR experiences are experiencing similar success. Augmented reality startup Snatch won £4.4m in latest funding rounds and time in app is currently averaging 90 minutes a day (based on global usage). The Snatch app creates an immersive treasure hunt on the user’s smarthphone linking to users surroundings, similar to the Pokemon Go game, but offers real prizes. What is interesting about this app is that brands are seeing the opportunity to get involved – allowing consumers to immerse themselves in their brands and also win prize to drive awareness and trial. Brands already signed up include Heineken, Missguided, Boohoo and Samsung.

Opportunities for brands

Consumers are already immersing themselves in this space. Look no further than the success of Snapchats Bitmoji lens. Consumer enthusiasm for augmented reality experiences, coupled with the new iPhone functionality mean there is huge opportunities for brands to engage with their consumers in new and meaningful ways. The most successful brands AR case studies are those where brands they deliver value and personalisation to customers. Ikea Place launched earlier this year which allows customers to scroll through the app’s catalogue of over 2,000 products from couches to storage units. Users can hold their phone up to anywhere in their home and the camera will digitally place the furniture in that spot to help judge size and style suitability. The app significantly improves the furniture-buying experience, making life easier for customers. The key learning to take from the Ikea example is that the brands employed the tech in a way that delivers against the company’s objectives and offers a clear and easy to use benefit to consumers.

Brands should treat this new iPhone update as a real opportunity to connect and add value to consumers, and be mindful their competitors will likely do likewise.