Format wars enter the AR era as Safari lacks support for competing WebXR standard

Posted:
in iOS
Industry insiders claim Apple's lack of support for WebXR is holding Augmented Reality on the web back, but that's only if you ignore the standards Apple already supports.

ARKit enables users to see 3D objects in overlaid on the real world
ARKit enables users to see 3D objects in overlaid on the real world


WebXR was created by a coalition of companies that included Meta, Google, Samsung, Mozilla, and Magic Leap. The format enables augmented reality experiences in a web browser, but only where it is supported.

According to a report from Protocol, Apple doesn't support WebXR and industry insiders claim this is holding back the advancement of AR on the web. However, the report fails to mention the Apple-Pixar sourced USDZ format introduced with ARKit 2.0.

The report claims that the iPhone limits users to app experiences for augmented reality since Safari's WebKit engine doesn't support WebXR. That means consumers would be required to install third-party apps to consume the format.

However, Apple's lack of support for the format doesn't exclude iOS users from having AR experiences on the web. The USDZ format was created in a collaboration between Apple and Pixar and has existed since iOS 12 debuted in 2018.

Apple uses web AR objects for promotional material like event invites
Apple uses web AR objects for promotional material like event invites


There are several places where web-AR can be experienced on the iPhone like Amazon or Apple. The USDZ format has been popular for seeing items in augmented reality before making a purchase.

While an argument can be made for Apple to support the competing standard, it can't be based on the idea that Apple is holding web-based AR back, because it simply isn't true. One of the more heavily featured complainers in the article is an AR marketing company called Pretty Big Monster which has built experiences for Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery.

"They have blocked off a huge portion of our consumers from the most successful way to view AR experiences," said Jason Steinberg, managing director at Pretty Big Monster. "It's a shame that all these great experiences could be two clicks away."

Apple is one of the driving forces behind promoting augmented reality and its benefits, and Safari's USDZ format is part of pushing that narrative forward. The competing WebXR standard may yet appear in a future Safari update, driving competition innovation for web-based AR.

Until then, it seems Apple has chosen a side in yet another format war. While the report suggests Apple is testing WebXR support internally, it isn't clear if it will ever arrive in WebKit.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 4
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,142member

    Until then, it seems Apple has chosen a side in yet another format war. While the report suggests Apple is testing WebXR support internally, it isn't clear if it will ever arrive in WebKit.
    It's marked as "in development": https://webkit.org/status/#?search=webxr

    And it appears to be nearly done: https://bugs.webkit.org/show_bug.cgi?id=208988

    Which is very promising, albeit not entirely conclusive.
    Andy.HardwakeAlex1Nmichelb76
  • Reply 2 of 4
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,362member
    I’m not a programmer, but based on my limited knowledge of the subject aren’t only 2-3 lines of code needed to convert any format into USDZ? So, is it theoretically possible that it’s not actually Apple holding WebXR back, but WebXR itself? Asking anyone that knows more than me. 

    I think a more detailed article is needed in order to weigh the pros and cons of each. 
    Alex1N
  • Reply 3 of 4
    michelb76michelb76 Posts: 386member
    Japhey said:
    I’m not a programmer, but based on my limited knowledge of the subject aren’t only 2-3 lines of code needed to convert any format into USDZ? So, is it theoretically possible that it’s not actually Apple holding WebXR back, but WebXR itself? Asking anyone that knows more than me. 

    I think a more detailed article is needed in order to weigh the pros and cons of each. 
    The pros of WebXR are that it is open source, has open source tool support, and people have already been using it for the past several years to create stuff, so anyone can use it.

    The pro of USDZ for Apple is that it's Apple controlled and only available in commercial applications, one of the many reasons why there isn't a decent AR creating tool on the Mac platform. So in this case Apple is holding not only itself, but also their users and the market back. I expect Apple to come out with a decent authoring tool for what AR plans they have.  I mean, try making a USDZ that Apple uses for their Apple Events. Good luck.

    But hopefully Safari will support WebXR at some point.
    h2p
  • Reply 4 of 4
    thainayuthainayu Posts: 1member
    USDZ is like png. While WebXR is like Canvas. Actually it is the extension of Canvas

    You can't make sensible interaction on both png and USDZ

    Not only that. WebXR came with standard for sensing environment and immersive mode also dual display for each eye. Frame and Pose and even Image Tracking. It also programmable because it just based on html Canvas. Completely allow interactive and game and full fledge application

    This column is totally and blatantly telling lie. Apple are blocking the web standard so that it can only display something fabulous but internally hollow and shallow. USDZ just half heart effort to excuse themselves that "we can really do AR too". It is the fraud to the customer

    The actual reason, to be blunt, is because it was overlapped with their own ARKit. They try to discourage developer to not make a web app able to compete with app in their store. A typical way to monopolized and caged customer in their prison as they always did to make profit unfairly

    ps. If they are rushing to finish this standard, I can bet it was just because EU start to pressure them about unfair policy that other browser must use safari's webkit underlyingly is Anti-competitive practices and also impeding the industry. They can't barring people to switch browser anymore and no one will use the useless safari when they know chrome can do everything include webxr

    ps2. Chrome also support USDZ. Only safari is inferior in everyway and hinder the progress of civilization

    You can just google ` ios webxr ` to see that in this week almost all of people talking about this topic in the same way. Apple is just being impediment of everyone
    edited May 11
Sign In or Register to comment.