Augmented reality is about to get its big, mainstream moment thanks to Apple’s iOS 11 and the new iPhone, but another player intends to grab some of the mainstream AR action, too: Google.
To that end, Google is introducing ARCore, a platform for developers that will allow them to build augmented reality apps on Android.
Today’s release is a preview version for developers who want to get started on using the ARCore software development kit (SDK), with an official release coming in the winter.
A few early ARCore demonstration videos show off the kind of AR virtual object interactions via smartphone we’ve seen in many Apple ARKit demo videos.
Therefore, given ARCore’s timing (just ahead of the release of iPhone 8) and promised capabilities, for many, ARCore will seem like a direct response from Google to Apple’s looming AR explosion via iOS 11.
“ARCore is a foundational layer which provides similar capabilities, but it works across the Android ecosystem,” a Google spokesperson told Mashable. “Both give developers the ability to build motion tracking, environmental understanding, and light estimation into AR applications. 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.”
The SDK works with Unity, Unreal, and Java/OopenGL, and allows for the creation of AR experiences that involve motion tracking, environmental understanding (the ability to detect horizontal surfaces), and light estimation (to create lighting effects to give virtual objects a more realistic appearance).
“ARCore builds on Tango technology, but makes AR broadly available across Android phones without having to add any additional hardware,” said the spokesperson.
The first phones that are ARCore-compatible are the Pixel and Samsung’s S8, running 7.0 Nougat, but Google is working with companies including Huawei, LG, ASUS, and others to eventually bring the preview version of ARCore to roughly 100 million devices.