Google just released a developer preview for ARCore, a new platform for bringing AR capabilities to Android devices.
ARCore will expand on the work which Google Tango did in three years.
Supporing Java, OpenGL, Unity, and Unreal, ARCore looks to simplify the three pillars of successful augmented reality: Motion tracking, environmental understanding, and light estimation. The SDK observes ambient light in the environment and enables developers to light virtual objects in ways that match their surroundings.
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. This is being launched in a preview phase with Google's Pixel and Samsung's S8, but Dave Burke says they're "targeting 100 million devices at the end of the preview".
In addition to Samsung, Google is reaching out to Huawei, LG, Asus and others with information and guidance on how to make their future phones compatible with ARCore. However, while there are more Android phones in use than iPhones, Android customers are less likely to be using the up-to-date software required to run ARCore. All this is pretty impressive, which is why Google didn't want to wait and has come up with its answer to Apple's ARKit. Unlike Tango, ARCore doesn't need special hardware or sensors and should work with most high-end modern cameras.
A novel addition by Google is that it focuses more on the realism of it all by making virtual objects consistent with the lighting of the room.
Yes, ARCore will probably arrive to millions of Android devices, but only if certain conditions are met. The phablet was an important milestone for mobile AR, and it was followed by the ASUS Zenfone AR this year. The custom browsers, rumored to also be compatible with Apple's ARKit, are now in prototype but will allow augmented reality content to be created and viewed on a website.
Google isn't going to let Apple steal its augmented reality thunder.
'With more than two billion active devices, Android is the largest mobile platform in the world, Google said. ARCore and its ties to Android will undoubtedly be compared to Apple's ARKit and iOS, which we'll be hearing more about next month.
That estimate assumes that Apple and its rivals will expand beyond AR software to high-tech glasses and other devices, such as Microsoft's HoloLens headset.