Augmented Reality (AR) is mixing real-world images with artificial ones in real time – sometimes also known as Mixed Reality. This contrasts with Virtual Reality (VR) where the entire image is artificial.
AR has been around for literally decades, but hasn’t yet become a mainstream technology. Google tried to change this with Project Tango, but this required special hardware and didn’t catch on. All this looks set to change, however, with Apple’s promotion of the technology.
Apple has released ARKit, a platform that allows developers to easily create augmented reality apps, and is expected to make this a major focus of the iPhone 8 launch. Google later switched to the same approach, with ARCore.
Although Tim Cook says that Apple is much more excited about AR than VR, Apple is not entirely ignoring the latter. High Sierra is the first version of macOS with support for VR, and Apple has said that it will integrate with Valve, so should be compatible with existing VR headsets like the HTC Vive.