Google just announced its answer to Apple's augmented reality platform

Google just announced its answer to Apple's augmented reality platform

Just ahead of iOS 11's launch, which will bring the much-anticipated ARKit to millions of iPhones, Google has slid in with the announcement of ARCore. Today, we're releasing a preview of a new software development kit (SDK) called ARCore. Google's problem here lies with the need for manufacturers to modify each version of Android to work on hundreds of different models of phone or varying screen sizes and resolutions; in 10 years the iPhone has had just four different screen sizes.

The announcement comes almost three months after Apple announced its own augmented reality development platform for developers, called ARKit, in June. Tango phones (the two that exist today) will be able to use ARCore-made apps in the future, but they won't be any more skillful at AR than a non-Tango phone. Motion tracking and feature point observation allows ARCore to identify how the phone is being held, with the same feature points used to assess the environment and light.

Like Tango, the ARKCore SDK works with Java/OpenGL, Unity and Unreal, and focuses on three core areas: motion tracking, environmental understanding, and light estimation.

Google is also showcasing developer creations on an AR Experiments webpage, showing off everything from virtual creatures hidden in the real world to walls being turned into faces.

Google says that by the end of the year it will have expanded ARCore to work with a string of other devices from the likes of Huawei, Asus and LG.




Google says ARCOre stems from its work on Tango. You see, while virtual reality immerses you into a space, replacing everything you see in a physical world, AR takes the world around you and adds virtual objects over it. It will require Android 7.0 Nougat or above, which is why it's millions of devices, rather than over a billion.

"These custom browsers allow developers to create AR-enhanced websites and run them on both Android/ARCore and iOS/ARKit". With compatible smartphones, the tool will enable developers to build applications which leverage the phone's camera to observe feature points in a room and IMU sensor data to determine the position and orientation of the phone as it moves, all while ensuring virtual objects remain accurately placed. It's as if they're sending a message to Android users and developers that we're not in Kansas anymore.

Google is no a stranger to augmented reality by any means thanks to Project Tango, but that project might not have been the ideal match for the general consumer.

Google has a whole page of "AR experiments" that show off the capabilities of ARCore.

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