Augmented Reality

What is USDZ and why you should care - Apple's AR kit explained

Your iPhone already has an AR feature.

With the release of the AR kit and USDZ enabled every iPhone and iPad user with iOS 12 and above to view AR files when reading or shopping online, Apple is working hard to make AR a seamless part of our world, and we are here for it!

It's time to familiarize yourself with Apple's offering and learn how you can use it for your brand. Augmented reality is poised to disrupt how we interact with content online.

What is a USDZ file?

USDZ is a 3D file format that shows up as AR content on a website when you click on it while reading the news or shopping. It is also used in iOS AR apps. It's like a PNG for 3D, with optimizations for storage and sharing. USDZ is also part of WebAR viewers that allow seeing Augmented Reality preview on both iOS and Androids. Some WebAR viewers convert it automatically for you such as Vectary WebAR.

What is great about it is that all the new Apple devices with iOS 12 and above are able to projects these files automatically. USDZ is quite a rich format that can display vivid and detailed objects as well as animations.

Multiplayer AR game powered by AR kit 2.0. Image source: Apple

What is the AR kit?

It is the kit for building AR experiences. Designers can use it to create AR apps. You can also incorporate real-world objects into your AR experiences, giving your users even greater immersive opportunities. The real-world objects are projected thanks to the AR Quick look which is a built-in feature of iOS.

This built-in technology enables users to seamlessly view AR content on their devices without having to download any additional apps. It will be a natural, new part of their browsing experience.

The only thing missing from the AR kit is an AR content creation tool - or a 3D content creation tool to be more precise. You need to create the 3D models (in USDZ format) to build your AR experience. Use Vectary, if you want a powerful and straightforward tool that is easy to learn.

Download the AR kit from Apple's website.

AR game powered by AR kit 2.0. Image source:

What is the AR Quick Look?

The AR Quick Look is a viewer, which means that it enables users to view AR content in the real world. It is built into iOS so that users of these devices can view AR files when visiting your online store, for instance.

Shopify's Magnolia store already features AR files to view in AR quick look.

The next thing you need: 3D / AR content

With all of these tools to create AR apps and make AR content a regular part of browsing the internet, shopping, reading or even navigation, the next thing you'll need is lots of good AR content and a tool to create this content easily.

Right now you can choose from a variety of pro 3D software. The only issue with pro software is that it is a very challenging entry-point for people who want to get into AR now and start creating 3D content for iOS devices.

The best option right now is to start with a simple and powerful 3D tool like Vectary, that enables designers and non-designers to quickly create 3D models and AR content. With Vectary you can create by drag and drop and pull from an extensive library of ready-made 3D objects. Advanced users can create mesh 3D models from scratch in the Edit mode. Try the free version of Vectary here.

Export and convert USDZ files online with Vectary

Vectary is able to export USDZ files ready for the AR kit or AR Quick Look. Learn how to create / export USDZ files with Vectary.

Why should you care?

AR apps and content are quickly improving now that available tools such as the AR kit, AR core (for Android), or Vectary are available to designers. Apple devices being able to naturally display AR content will give brands the opportunity to impress their customers with entertaining and useful new offerings.

Snapchat has managed to give us some of the first AR ads and is working on this good-looking AR-enabled sunglasses model; Magic Leap has come out with their headset and Google introduced the ARCore for Android apps. New York Times has also incorporated Fashion Week-related AR content into their app. Looks like it's happening.

How to enable AR kit on Androids too?

Instead of downloading USDZ for AR kit and glTF for AR core separately, try our Vectary WebAR viewer, that do the job for you automatically. Learn more.

Start creating AR content today

AR can seem intimidating at first, but with the right tools, you will be able to add 3D content to your website or app very quickly.