ABC News App Courts AR for Royal Wedding

Tied to its broader coverage of the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, ABC News has introduced an augmented reality (AR) enhancement for its iOS app that lets users pose with a 3D, digitized Queen’s Guard or a get a close-up view of the Royal Carriage.

The AR enhancement, developed using Apple’s ARKit, is available via ABC News’s app for newer iPhone and iPad devices. Users can pose with those digital enhancements and share them with friends or on social media channels.

This marks the first AR experience developed by ABC News for the ABC News app. In February, ABC News used AR for a Good Morning America segment about heart disease.

As for reasons driving this latest use of AR, “The Royal Wedding is a newsworthy event that interests a broad audience,” Doug Vance, VP of product development at ABC News, noted in an email exchange with Multichannel News. “We’ve previously created special products for William and Kate’s wedding, as well as the birth of their first child, George, and we felt this celebratory event would be an excellent showcase of AR technology.”

One aim with AR is to drive further engagement via the app.

“While we are still in the beginning stages of creating AR experiences for News, we do expect this feature to drive engagement in the app as well,” Vance explained. “By its very nature, AR enables users of our iPhone or iPad app to use the camera in their device to experience stories in a more immersive way; we expect new forms of engagement to emerge as a result. For example, in internal testing, our users loved taking photos and videos with the AR models and sharing these fun moments with family and friends - that’s not a behavior we can enable with traditional text and video news products.”

The AR component ties into ABC’s wider coverage of the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle that will include an extended edition of Good Morning America on Saturday, May 19, from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. ET. GMA co-anchor Robin Roberts and World News Tonight anchor David Muir will lead live coverage from Windsor, England, ABC News said.

Among other examples, 20/20, meanwhile, is set for coverage of the Royal Wedding with primetime specials on Friday (May 18) and Saturday (May 19). ABC’s Nightline will also be providing coverage during the week.