Editor's Note: This story was updated on Feb. 23 per Google's launch of ARCore 1.0.
Google wants to make it easy for Android apps to feature augmented-reality technology. Today (Feb. 23) the company brought its AR software development kit, called ARCore, out of beta and into the open to challenge Apple's ARKit. It's also rolling out its ARCore-based Lens tool to more Android devices (as well as iOS devices) via its Google Photos apps.
But will your Android device support ARCore apps? In a blog post, Director of AR Engineering Anuj Gosalia revealed that ARCore is now supported by "Google’s Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL; Samsung’s Galaxy S8, S8+, Note 8, S7 and S7 Edge; LG’s V30 and V30+ (Android O only); ASUS’s Zenfone AR; and OnePlus’s OnePlus 5."
Google has met its target of 100 million supported Android devices in the field, and looks to grow that number, as it's also partnering with other device-makers, such as Huawei, Motorola and Xiaomi.
Google is also expanding the amount of devices that can preview Lens, its tool that uses AI to place informational overlays over objects you photograph.
Originally available solely on Pixel 2 (and then backported to Pixel) smartphones, Lens will be available to all phones using Google Photos "running the latest version of the app on Android and iOS." Google also notes that "compatible flagship devices will get the camera-based Lens experience within the Google Assistant."
In the original ARCore announcement, vice president of Android Engineering Dave Burke Burke note that Google built ARCore on the work it did for Project Tango, which saw the search titan partner with Lenovo and Asus. As he says, ARCore's key improvement is that "it works without any additional hardware, which means it can scale across the Android ecosystem."
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In a video to promote ARCore, animated lions, tin-men and scarecrows are dropped into the real world via augmented reality. It's as if they're sending a message to Android users and developers that we're not in Kansas anymore.
To pull all of this off, ARCore uses a trio of technologies (Java/OpenGL, Unity and Unreal) and measures three environmental aspects (with motion tracking, environmental understanding and light estimation). When these powers combine, its animated artifacts fit into our world naturally.
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