Apple Already Takes a Lead in Augmented Reality

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Google has announced ARCore which will compete with Apple's ARKit and bring augmented reality to millions of Android smartphones.

If we have a peek at Google's AR Experiments collection, at first it seems like ARCore is the only software kit used by each chosen developer.

Google adds that it's working with Samsung, Asus, Huawei, LG "and others". Google had been investing in its Tango augmented reality platform, but that required special hardware and sensors on new smartphones. For starters, there's the matter of putting aside the 3D mesh formation that the Tango employs and replacing that with the motion-tracked AR technology that most Android phones are capable of. In order to make their AR system famous, they would have to ask their phone makers to use certain parts because it may be impossible for them to account for a variety of Android phone cameras.

While ARCore now only works on Google's Pixel and Samsung's Galaxy S8 running Android 7.0 Nougat or higher, the aim is to bring it to all newer Android phones.

Eventually, the company said it is targeting 100m devices at the end of the preview and that "ARCore is our next step in bringing AR to everyone, and we'll have more to share later this year".

Google today announced the launch of a new software development kit called ARCore. The OS is now working on a Visual Positioning Service (VPS), which will enable world-scale AR experiences. This comes after Apple has revealed their answer to AR with their ARKit. This ensures that virtual objects remain where they were placed. The last time we heard from Google about the total number of active Android devices, earlier this May, they suggested the number was over 2-billion. ARCore is a development platform that will allow Android app developers to quickly and easily build AR experiences into their apps and games.

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. ARCore uses Java/OpenGL, Unity and Unreal engines for motion tracking and environmental understanding to place virtual objects accurately, and light estimation, to ensure virtual objects match their surroundings, Burke noted.

Augmented reality allows developers to overlay digital content on top of the real world.

Google showed off the power of its platform and the remarkable possibilities of augmented reality in a promo video. Smartphone AR has been on Google's agenda for a few years starting with Tango, an initiative that launched in 2014.