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Google abandons Project Tango, takes on Apple's ARKit with hardware-independent ARCore

31 August, 2017, 01:20 | Author: Lloyd Doyle
  • Google just announced its answer to Apple's augmented reality platform

Now, as Apple prepares to unleash AR capabilities within iOS 11, Google has a new SDK that brings augmented reality to existing and future Android phones.

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. It's available to developers in preview form today, and as of now works on Google's Pixels and Samsung's Galaxy S8.

Google ARCore is a new Android augmented reality platform that the company has announced for its mobile operating system.

While both companies have created software development kits so that developers can create AR-based apps, Google might have an edge over Apple, since it has worked on the technology longer.

Google has been working on Project Tango, its current AR platform, for years.

By means of your phone's camera (no additional hardware), ARCore knows where it stands as the device moves and can accurately place objects in space and keep them pinned down.


ARCore will also make use of the light sensors, so there will be dynamic shading and lighting, so those AR objects can have shadows while they are integrated with the real world. "Both give developers the ability to build motion tracking, environmental understanding, and light estimation into AR applications". That experiment has resulted in 2 spec-heavy Tango-ready phones - the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and Asus ZenFone AR.

Apple and Google will battle for to take a lead in gaining the upper hand of software developers and customers.

Google's ARCore will bring Tango to the masses. It will require Android 7.0 Nougat or above, which is why it's millions of devices, rather than over a billion. For the time being, ARCore is only available on Android, meaning that the ARCore SDK, when added to Unity, can only create content for Android for the time being.

Just as is in Apple's ARKit, ARCore will use the camera's sensors to "feature points in the room" as well as to determine the position and the orientation of the device as it'll be moving towards virtual objects. This is Google's AR experience for "normal phones".

However, seemingly looking to rain on Google's parade, Apple later on Tuesday also had its own AR-shaped news, showing off an array of apps running on its ARKit platform that was announced earlier in June.

Unlike virtual reality, which completely blocks out the physical world, augmented reality overlays visuals and information onto a person's immediate surroundings - for example, when viewed through a smartphone or tablet screen.

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