With ARCore, Google responds to Apple’s ARKit, as a way to democratize augmented reality on mobile devices.

Google has just unveiled the preliminary version of a new development kit called ARCore. The letters AR representing Augmented Reality, the AR that Google wants to bring to existing Android smartphones, as well as future models.

For the time being, the preliminary version only works with Pixel, Pixel XL and Samsung Galaxy S8 (with Android 7 Nougat and higher), but Google targets about 100 million devices at the end of the preliminary phase and indicates work with Samsung, Huawei, LG and Asus are ongoing. For now, there’s no specification as to the capacity a device would need to house the AR beast (like processor, memory, screen).

The ARCore kit is Google’s response to Apple’s ARKit, which will be released in September with iOS 11. This is not Google’s first attempt in this area, but the very ambitious Tango project, announced in 2014, was seemingly hampered by material constraints. Thus, smartphones must be equipped with special sensors, one dedicated to depth and another infrared, which excludes traditional models. Today, only the Zenfone AR from Asus and the Phab 2 Pro from Lenovo are Tango compatible and very few applications are available.

Three concepts for Google’s augmented reality

The ARCore kit is therefore much more attractive for developers because they will be able to design applications that can work with a wide range of smartphones without the need for additional hardware.

ARCore works on three concepts: motion tracking, environmental understanding and light estimation. Thanks to the sensors of the smartphone and the points of reference for the location, ARCore makes it possible to determine what movements are made by a device. The kit can also determines horizontal surfaces, such as a table or floor, for placing virtual elements. Finally, it allows developers to use ambient light to better illuminate virtual objects and make them more realistic.

For now, Google has only shown two applications, which can be seen in the video, and it will take a few months to see if the ARCore, whose final version is scheduled for December, would be appealing to developers. If it doesn’t by then, then many would turn to Apple for its Arkit.

Source: Google Blog