How To Build An Augmented Reality Hairstyle App
Augmented reality (AR) promises to deliver significant business value across many industries. Consequently, the beauty industry is actively exploring this technology.
The market for AR beauty apps including AR hairstyle apps is growing rapidly.
If you are an entrepreneur trying to make a mark in this market, then this guide on how to build an augmented reality hairstyle app is exactly the one you need!
How important is AR in the beauty industry?
AR is increasingly important in the beauty industry, and the following facts attest to this:
- The technology uses face and skin mapping, therefore, consumers can see how products will look on them without visiting a beauty products store. Read “Global beauty and personal care products market 2018-2025 – increasing adoption of augmented reality in the beauty industry” to learn more about this AR use case in the beauty industry.
- Beauty coaching is emerging as a key application of AR in this industry. In May 2018, L’Oréal, the beauty giant had showcased an AR-powered solution to provide step-by-step beauty tutorial to consumers. You can read about this solution in “8 leading augmented reality innovations for beauty: L’Oréal’s latest efforts”.
- Other leading beauty brands like Maybelline, Yves Rocher, Smashbox, CoverGirl, and Rimmel London are also offering AR beauty apps to their customers. You can read about this trend in “Is augmented reality the future of the beauty industry?”.
- Experts in the industry state that AR offers consumers the ability to discover beauty products and virtually try them on, and this is proving to be a big plus in the beauty industry. Read “Virtual makeovers are better than ever. Beauty companies are trying to cash in” to learn more about this.
An example of an AR hairstyle app
Let’s start with reviewing an AR hairstyle app, which can give you design ideas. Perfect365 is a well-known app, and it’s available on both Android and iOS. This app offers the following features:
- It’s a makeup as well as a hairstyle app that uses AR.
- Consumers can try different hairstyles and colors in real-time.
- The app enables users to experiment with brands, designers, influencers, and makeup artists.
- The app has both free and premium versions.
- It offers in-app purchases.
If you want to check out other examples of AR hairstyle app then you can find a useful list in “The trick to never regretting a haircut or colour again”.
How to create an augmented reality hairstyle app
I will now explain the process to develop an augmented reality hairstyle app, which is as follows:
1. Project scoping:
I suggest that you define the following scope for this project:
- Create an iOS and an Android app.
- Include the following features:
- The app should allow consumers to try on various hairstyles using AR;
- To engage users, the app should have the push notifications feature;
- It should allow in-app purchases, moreover, there should be a payment gateway integration.
- Launch the app in one geography.
2. Use the Agile SDLC model
The above-mentioned features provide a good starting point, and you can launch a “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP). You can then enhance the app based on market feedback.
I suggest that you use the Agile SDLC model since it supports iterative development. Read more about this SDLC model in “What Is software development life cycle and what you plan for?”.
3. Formulate a development approach
I recommend the following development approach for this project:
- Plan for future expansion into other geographies, therefore, use design and development best practices like keeping the content separate from the code. These are “app internationalization” best practices, and you can learn more about it in “The ultimate guide to mobile app internationalization”.
- Use a “Mobile Backend as a Service” (MBaaS) platform to expedite the project.
- Improve your test coverage using a test automation aid.
- Utilize “Software Development Kits” (SDKs) and “Application Programming Interfaces” (APIs) to aid the development.
Read “What is the best development approach to guarantee the success of your app?” to understand how this approach helps.
4. Build a “Scrum team”
“Scrum”, a popular technique to execute Agile projects can help you to build an empowered team, and I recommend that you use it. The project manager performs the “Scrum Master” role and builds small, cross-functional teams where developers work together with testers.
The team works on “Sprints”, i.e., iterations, and you can learn about such teams in “How to build a scrum development team?”. You need the following roles in addition to the scrum master:
- Business analysts;
- UI designers;
- AR developers;
- Android developers;
- iOS developers;
You might wonder whether to hire freelancers or to engage a development team with the required experience. Our guide “Freelance app development team vs. field expert software development teams” can help you to decide.
5. Get an MBaaS platform
You need to use an MBaaS platform since these platforms offer the following advantages:
- You don’t need to develop and manage the mobile backend, therefore, you don’t need mobile backend developers and infrastructure architects in your team.
- MBaaS providers manage the cloud infrastructure and persistent storage, moreover, you can easily integrate 3rd party APIs.
- You can easily implement features like user management, security, and push notifications.
- Scaling your app is easier with an MBaaS platform, moreover, you can easily manage the complexity arising from the wide range of mobile platforms and devices.
Read “How to choose the best mobile backend as a service (MBaaS)?” to learn more about these advantages, and sign-up for AWS Amplify, i.e., the MBaaS offering from AWS.
6. Sign-up for a test automation solution for effective testing
Your app must work on a wide range of mobile devices, which is hard to achieve with common open-source testing frameworks. The team needs to test the app against all possible mobile devices, and pCloudy offers a mobile device lab on the cloud for this.
You can check out the following resources to learn more about it:
You can find its pricing plans here.
7. Sign-up with an AR SDK/API provider
I recommend that you use an AR SDK/API provider to implement the core feature of letting consumers try on various hairstyles virtually. Wikitude is a robust choice since the company offers powerful AR SDKs.
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Image recognition based AR is a key capability of Wikitude, and you can use this in your AR hairstyle app. You can use Wikitude in the following way:
- Read about its image recognition based AR capabilities in “Image recognition based augmented reality”.
- You can get the Wikitude Android and iOS SDKs here.
- Wikitude offers comprehensive documentation, and you can find them here.
You can find the Wikitude pricing plans here.
8. Get an API solution to implement the in-app purchase feature
Since the app needs the in-app purchase feature, I recommend that you use an eCommerce API solution. Shopify is a good choice here, and you can use it as follows:
- Access its eCommerce API on the Shopify developer portal.
- Shopify offers guides for its APIs, and you can access them here.
- You can also check out the Shopify API tutorials.
9. Procure an API solution for payment gateway integration
At this point, you need to find an API solution for payment gateway integration. Braintree, a solution from PayPal, is a good choice for this, and you can use it as follows:
- Sign-up for “Braintree Direct”.
- Access its documentation on the Braintree developer portal.
- Use the Braintree Android and iOS SDKs.
- You can use this guide for using Braintree direct, moreover, this tutorial is helpful.
10. Use Twilio for bulk SMS
You need to implement the push notifications feature in the AR hairstyle app, and a bulk SMS solution helps here. Twilio is a reputed provider for such solutions, and you can take the following steps:
- Sign-up for the Twilio “Programmable SMS” solution.
- Access the documentation for this service here.
- Read “Messaging services and copilot”, which provides guidance for incorporating this solution in your app.
You can refer to the Twilio pricing plans here.
11. Designing the UI
The app needs an attractive yet user-friendly UI, therefore, I recommend that you take the following steps:
- Read the “Material design” guidelines, which is important for Android mobile app UI design.
- The UI design for an iOS app should follow the “Human Interface Guidelines”, therefore, follow this for the iOS app.
- Adobe and Smashing Magazine have collaborated, and they have brought out a good guide for the mobile app UI design. You can read it in “A comprehensive guide to mobile app design”.
- There are several best practices for designing forms in a mobile app UI so that users can enter data easily while using the app. You should follow these best practices, and you can find key ones in “Best practices for mobile form design”.
- Use effective tools for the UI design, e.g., Adobe XD.
12. Android app development and testing
I recommend that you use Java for the Android app development, and take the following steps:
- Use Android Studio, which is the “Integrated Development Environment” (IDE) that Android developers use.
- Google offers guidance for developing an Android app with Java using Android Studio, and you can find it in “Build your first Android app in Java”.
- Integrate SDKs/APIs for Wikitude, Shopify, Braintree, and Twilio in your Android Studio Java project.
- Use Espresso for testing, and use the pCloudy mobile devices lab to test the app on a wide range of devices.
13. Coding and testing the iOS app
I recommend that you use Objective-C for developing the iOS app. It’s a powerful language, and many programmers developing apps for Apple platforms know it. I have described the plus points of this language in “How to convert app from Swift to Objective-C?”.
You need to take the following steps for the iOS app development:
- Code the app using Xcode, the IDE that Apple champions for developing apps for its platforms.
- You need to use XCTest for testing the app, moreover, use the pCloudy mobile devices lab.
- You need to integrate the API/SDK solutions for Wikitude, Shopify, Braintree, and Twilio in the app.
14. Publish your mobile app into app stores
Now that you have coded and tested the Android and iOS apps, you need to publish them to the app stores. Google and Apple have stringent guidelines for publishing apps, which developers need to follow.
Find these guidelines in the below repositories:
- “Publish your app”, which is for the Android app;
- “Submitting iOS Apps to the App Store”: For the iOS app.
15. Manage the development project
Let’s discuss a critical success factor for the success of this project. You will need to make your team productive, and I have explained the importance of this in “10 biggest challenges when developing an app”.
This requires a proactive approach to managing the project. An empowered scrum team works as follows:
- A “Product owner” provides the requirements in a document called the “Product Backlog”.
- The team estimates these requirements and discusses their priorities with the business stakeholders.
- In an exercise called the “Sprint planning meeting”, the team slots these requirements into sprints.
- During a sprint, the team has “Daily stand-up meetings” to discuss the project status.
- The team needs to demonstrate the functioning app to the business stakeholders, and obtain their approval in “Sprint review meetings”.
- At the end of a sprint, the team conducts “Sprint retrospective meetings”, which helps in learning lessons from the sprint.
The scrum master should use an effective tool to manage these diverse set of activities, and I recommend Trello for this.
We at DevTeam.Space utilize a data-driven process to manage projects, and we utilize real-time dashboards for this. This enables team members to know where they stand, and that helps in building empowered teams.
Planning to launch an augmented reality hairstyle app?
Note that the market for AR hairstyle apps is competitive, and a project to build a high-quality app could become complex. Platforms and tools help, however, end-to-end project management is key to the success of this project. You might want to take help from a reputed software development company, however, read our guide “How to find the best software development company?” before you do so.