At the beginning of the year, we introduced a big step forward in mobile augmented reality development - the Layar Player. This easy-to-use SDK allows those with a basic understanding of iPhone development to add fully-functional Layar AR into their very own apps by simply copying and pasting some code. Now layers don’t need to live within the Layar app itself, but can exist as their own app specially tailored to a specific purpose and experience.
Since then we’ve continued to expand our platform and enhance the functionality of Layar, and so it’s time to bring some of these improvements to the Layar Player.
The release of Layar 5.0 in April introduced several new features that help make augmented reality more interactive and social. These improvements are important for augmented reality as a whole because it helps the technology become more user-friendly. Now, with our latest iteration of the Layar Player SDK, developers can incorporate new Layar 5.0 features, including animation, into their own apps.
We still receive questions about the new functionality of Layar 5.0, so we wanted to use this opportunity to take an in-depth look at how developers can best take advantage of the Layar platform.
To show how current layers are using these features, we will showcase these features in the context of how one in particular - the Conquar game layer - has utilized them.
With Layar 5.0, users can now connect with their friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. A few simple authentications and Layar users can begin sharing all kinds of Layar content with the world. Users can even connect their Layar account with Facebook and Twitter, allowing them to log in with these networks.
When browsing layers in the catalogue, users can quickly share a layer in their Twitter feed or on their Facebook wall. Users also have the option to simply email details of a layer to their contacts, or to copy a short-link to the layer for any other social use.
Inside of a layer, clicking on a spot or POI will allow users to share that point on their social networks. As with layers, a personalized tweet-style message can be added to the item when it is shared, allowing users to add their personal touch.
With Conquar - a massively multiplayer AR game of territorial control - users can “attack” spots belonging to enemy teams in order to challenge that zone’s control. As they do so, they can also share their actions with Facebook and Twitter, encouraging others to join the fight. Screenshots can also be grabbed from directly within the layer and shared just as easily.
For users, these sharing capabilities enhance the interactivity of layers by allowing them to display their exploits to the world. It also attracts others to begin using these layers, creating buzz and generating growth of usage and content of a particular layer.
For developers, social sharing makes it possible to harness the viral nature of the social web in promoting content online. By encouraging users to share layers and content, developers can quickly and easily get their name out to public and to people who might be interested in using their layers.
Developers themselves can also promote their own layers by using the sharing functionality built directly into Layar. It is also possible to grab the data being shared, like screenshots, and aggregate it on a third-party website, creating a portal for your layer’s users to save, comment, rate, and explore items they’ve shared.
Another key component of Layar 5.0 is the inclusion of animation. Previously, 3D and 2D objects within layers were relegated to a life of paralysis. They simply sat in their position in the real world, limiting their ability to catch your eye and encourage interaction.
Now, however, any object in layer can come alive with animation. When spots appear in your vision as you experience the world through augmented reality, they can now drop into the screen, or grow in size or spin around. It’s a small change, but it goes a long way for creating a smooth blend between the real and digital worlds.
Users can also trigger animations by interacting with objects on the screen. Icons and 3D models - which can already have their own inherent animation by default - can be triggered to perform a secondary animation (such as growing, moving, rotating, etc.) as well. Additional attributes can be programmed into animations, such as changing speeds or positions over time.
These animation features have been intelligently incorporated into the Conquar game layer. The game shows icons representing locations to be conquered, and these icons grow in size when you focus on one. It’s almost as if the enemy icon is bearing down on your location, prompting you to attack it! It is also far easier to determine which icon you are currently viewing in the bottom info bar. Upon clicking one of the icons, it will spin in a slow circle as you view its info.
Putting it all together…
We’ve put together a video that sums up all of the great features of Layar 5.0, including the implementation in the Conquar game layer. You can see that video embedded below.
Developers can use these new features to create engaging and interactive augmented reality experiences for users on the Layar platform, but if you’d rather host your own app, the updated Layar Player SDK lets you do just that.
For more information and to download the SDK, visit our Layar Player page.