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Google and Apple trade blows in augmented reality war


ARCore allows developers to build AR apps that display a phone's camera view, and overlay digital objects.

As for now, ARCore is only available for Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy S8 but Google is working with other manufacturers to roll it out as quickly as possible.

Google was first to market with an augmented reality-enabled smartphone with the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, which was designed around the Tango software.

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.

ARCore builds on Tango, "but it works without any additional hardware, which means it can scale across the Android ecosystem", Burke says. ARCore can detect horizontal surfaces using the same feature points it uses for motion tracking. ARCore is, instead, motion tracking, environmental understanding, and light estimation - all of which are available with a wide variety of Android device. In the meantime, it asks interested developers to begin experimenting with it and providing feedback on the early-stage APIs. The company is working with Samsung, Huawei, LG, and Asus to hopefully reach 100 million devices after the preview.

Now, Google has seemingly taken Apple's cue and revealed ARCore, effectively being its take on AR development for normal smartphones.




Google initially aimed to solve this problem with an AR system called Tango that uses a special depth sensor, but only two phone makers so far support it. By aligning the pose of the virtual camera that renders the 3D content with the pose of the device's camera provided by ARCore, virtual content is rendered from the correct perspective and remains accurately placed as it is rendered on top of the image obtained from the device's camera. "ARCore will run on millions of devices".

What is set to bring it to the next level however is the introduction of two AR platforms from two of the biggest companies on Earth: Apple and its platform ARKit, along with Google's own ARCore.

Google showed off the power of its platform and the remarkable possibilities of augmented reality in a promo video. It offers three features such as Motion tracking that uses phone's camera to detect your position, environmental understanding for detecting horizontal surfaces, and light estimation to provide ideal light and shadow of virtual objects matching your surroundings.

Given the fact that there are way more Android users than iOS, it looks like ARCore may eclipse Apple's ARKit concerning user base.

What Google hopes will give it the edge over Apple's platform is that it has been built with the explicit goal of working on most Android devices, not just ones with specific hardware. That is, no extra sensors or exclusive devices needed to use augmented reality apps.

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