This month in tech

While everyone else has been enjoying the start of a new season, the world of tech has been as busy as ever, with many of the giants announcing new launches. Augmented reality has been the order of the day for a couple of the big companies, while others have been focusing on shaking up their messaging apps. Here’s our round-up of the big news this month.


Apple’s new augmented reality apps

California computer giant Apple has been busy developing its new augmented reality offer recently, and this week gave a sneak preview of some of the apps created using its ARKit technology.

Augmented reality (AR) adds computer-generated images to a user’s view of the real world, so the potential for innovation is high. At their round robin event this week, Apple previewed a few consumer-facing AR apps created in partnership with big brands we all know and love, including IKEA – whose AR app will allow you to point your camera at a room in your home and visualise what it will look like with a piece of furniture added in.

“ARKit allows developers to tap into the latest computer vision technologies to build detailed and compelling virtual content on top of real-world scenes for interactive gaming, immersive shopping experiences, industrial design and more,” Apple said.


More augmented reality from Google

Over at the world’s largest search engine, Googlers have also been working on their augmented reality offer.

This week, the firm announced a new piece of kit for Android app developers called ARCore that contains cool features like motion tracking (which places virtual objects in a precise and exact way) and light estimation (a nifty tool making it possible to lighten virtual objects and have them appear more lifelike).

It’s all part of a mission to expand AR’s reach, and while the technology is currently only available on Pixel and the Samsung S8, the tech giant is working with firms like LG and ASUS to expand its reach. “ARCore is our next step in bringing AR to everyone, and we’ll have more to share later this year,” said Dave Burke, VP of the firm’s Android Engineering division.


Verified business accounts from WhatsApp

Over at WhatsApp, the messaging app has decided to begin verifying business accounts.

In a similar vein to Twitter’s “blue tick” for those who have verified accounts, approved businesses will get a “green tick” demonstrating that they are who they say they are. Messages from verified business accounts will come in yellow to further distinguish them.

“If you see a green badge next to a contact’s name, it means that WhatsApp has confirmed that the phone number of this contact belongs to a business account,” said WhatsApp.

The move comes after bosses at Facebook – which owns WhatsApp – were quizzed earlier this year over how the company plans to monetise its messaging services.

“Messaging is really strategically important for the company and the long-term engagement with our users, and the organic feel of the engagement with businesses and consumers is where we will be focused. So it’s early days this year, and it’s going to continue to be early days for a while,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer.

The future certainly looks bright, and augmented.