Google announces ARCore SDK preview, enabling augmented reality on existing Android phones

Wednesday, 30 Aug, 2017

The new software development kit for ARCore enables developers to work in Java/OpenGL, Android Studio, Unity and Unreal.

ARCore will eventually run on millions of Android devices but starting today, it's compatible with the Pixel and Samsung's Galaxy S8 running Android 7.0 Nougat and above.

"We think the web will be a critical component of the future of AR, so we're also releasing prototype browsers for web developers so they can start experimenting with AR, too", said Burke. More importantly, ARCore is geared to work on any Android phone, not just Tango-equipped devices. ARCore's motion tracking technology uses the phone's camera to identify interesting points, called features, and tracks how those points move over time.

Going beyond simply placing an object in front of you, Google says ARCore understands lighting in your environment, making shadows cast by virtual objects fall accurately on the real-world floor.

Today Google has officially introduced its answer for Apple's ARKit which was unveiled back in June.

Not to be beaten to the punch by rival Apple, Google has announced its own AR functionality for Android.

Google launches ARCore SDK in preview: AR on Android phones, no extra hardware required
Google abandons Project Tango, takes on Apple's ARKit with hardware-independent ARCore

When Apple says it'll deploy iOS 11 to millions of devices, it means it'll do it instantly.

On the other hand, Apple's iOS 11 is close to its launch and being the first major AR endeavor post the success of Pokémon Go past year, and therefore, will have a first go at marketing the technology.

With ARCore, Google is not trying to compete with its own, dedicated AR platform, but is rather aiming to bring augmented reality to the hands of millions and to make development for the new platform a breeze. That experiment has resulted in 2 spec-heavy Tango-ready phones - the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and Asus ZenFone AR.

In the case of AR, overlaying the virtual world on top of reality, Apple wants people to associate the tech with more than just Pokemon Go and dancing hot dog Snapchat filters.

As such, Apple's AR offerings will be available across a broad range of devices - and although iOS 11 hasn't been released yet, demonstration apps have already been presented to potential consumers. Google hopes to bring the final version of ARCore to the public before year's end. "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". Part of the device manufacturers' unwillingness to jump on board with Tango had to do with building complicated devices riddled with sensors and cameras, something which Google is trying to fix now with ARCore.