Google's new dev kit is bringing augmented reality to Android

The preview of the technology is being made available from today for Google's own Pixel and the Samsung Galaxy S8, as long as they are running at least the Nougat version of Android. For now, there are just two phones that can run it, but Google is working on making it available on millions of other Android devices from the OEMs like Samsung, Huawei, LG and ASUS. ARcore also leverages three similar technologies to understand your phone's surroundings, including motion tracking, environmental understanding, and light estimation.

ARCore is ready for use by developers, Google said, and comes alongside other tools for building AR apps for Android as well as for the web, with Burke saying "we think the web will be a critical component of the future of AR".

A couple of months after chief mobile rival Apple unveiled its augmented reality (AR) software development suited, ARKit, Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is responding with a new AR platform of its own.

In one demo app, Google showed how an Android mascot stands and waves in a virtual forest when a person hold's their phone to its face. With the arrival of iOS 11, there will be a mass adoption of AR and ARCore is Google's answer to it. Google is seems to be drifting away from Project Tango, but it has not abandoned it, yet. David Burke, VP, Andorid Engineering, wrote, "We've been developing the fundamental technologies that power mobile AR over the last three years with Tango, and ARCore is built on that work".

Google has experimented with augmented reality via its Tango platform, but that requires specific hardware, like the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, to work.

With regard to Apple, that knows its hardware well, Michael Valdsgaard, a developer with the furniture chain IKEA, called the system "rock solid", observing that it could estimate the size of virtual furniture placed in a room with 98 percent accuracy, despite lacking special sensors.

Google's ARCore will bring Tango to the masses.

Both Apple and Google will spruik for the eyes of software developers and customers to use and build various applications, which will make augmented reality on their respective smartphones a valuable feature.

A number of companies are exploring AR, including Apple, whose iOS11 allows developers to use new APIs and kits to develop AR apps. Phone based augmented reality pertains to the representation of digital objects that are superimposed onto the real world on screen. Today, they've announced they're bringing AR to a much larger audience with the new ARCore SDK.

Apple's AR system is set to work with devices capable of running iOS 11 - its next-generation operating system, due out this autumn.

  • Arturo Norris