Published: Wed, August 30, 2017
Tech | By Dwayne Harmon

Google's ARCore will take on Apple in augmented reality

Google's ARCore will take on Apple in augmented reality

"We're targeting 100 million devices at the end of the preview", Burke says.

Google is no a stranger to augmented reality by any means thanks to Project Tango, but that project might not have been the flawless match for the general consumer. "It's easy to imagine how ARCore works with Blocks, creating 3D assets in VR and then bringing them to AR, or with VPS [Visual Positioning Service] to map and annotate indoor spaces like museums or stores with AR". Google's new ARCore SDK is available as a preview starting today, on devices like the Google Pixel and Galaxy S8, and it's supported on both Nougat (Android 7) as well as Android Oreo (Android 8).

But Google is going one step further, and wants to find ways for developers to bridge the divide between the two platforms.

The developer tool is called ARCore and is a direct answer to Apple's ARKit, which allows iOS developers to make AR apps for iPhones and iPads.

In Apple's case, the Cupertino, California-based company chose to make its AR system work with devices capable of running iOS 11, its next-generation operating system due out this fall. But beyond gaming, the uses for AR are still somewhat murky. It is optimized for motion tracking to determine the position and orientation of a phone as it moves, environmental understanding for detecting horizontal surfaces, and light estimation to make virtual objects blend in with the lighting of a room. There are over two billion active Android devices and Google has announced that its ARCore SDK is now ready for the limelight and will bring augmented reality to the masses using existing and future Android smartphones.

In a video to promote ARCore, animated lions, tin-men and scarecrows are dropped into the real world via augmented reality.

Sure, the Samsung Galaxy S8 has been well reviewed, but it's just one among many Android handsets, and according to some reports, sales of the S8 are significantly slower than the previous version. ARKit aims to provide developers with a suite of tools to make augmented reality apps, with the aid of devices' high spec cameras and motion sensors. The company said it is now working with mobile manufacturers like Samsung, Huawei, LG and ASUS. (There are now over 2 billion Android devices).

Apple launched its own ARKit platform at the company's Worldwide Developer's Conference (WWDC) in June 2017.

Google is also releasing AR-focused experimental builds of Chromium. This will create a more accurate, and thus realistic, placement of virtual objects.

Google has seen iOS developers experimenting with ARKit over the past few months, and it naturally doesn't want Android developers to feel left behind.

The last demo showed off ARCore's most exciting potential.

AR will not be limited to phones, so Google is "releasing prototype browsers for web developers so they can start experimenting with AR, too", Burke says.

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