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Augmented reality apps and games to “hundreds of millions” of Android smartphones in 2018

Augmented reality apps and games

Google is all preparing to bring AR apps to “hundreds of millions” of Android devices in 2018. Google expects that “hundreds of millions” of Android devices will be capable of augmented reality (AR), bringing a slew of potential monetization opportunities. Company has already made  investment in the technology and released ARCore, a platform that allows developers to make AR apps for Android.

Note that ARCore was released in August 2017 it was launched on Google’s Pixel phone and the Samsung Galaxy S8. Both are high-end phones. But now Google expects that mid-and-lower-end phones to get the same and more capabilities over the next two years. AR has become a big battleground for the technology giants, in particular Apple and Google.  Apple released its ARKit, a set of tools to help developers create AR apps on its iOS operating system and is Google’s direct competitor.

ARCore by Google

AR Core by Google

There’s no need to purchase additional sensors or hardware  as ARCore works on existing and future Android phones. ARCore is an Android software development kit (SDK) that lets developers introduce AR capabilities to Android devices.

ARCore focuses on three things: motion tracking, environmental understanding, and light estimation. With motion tracking, ARCore can determine how the phone is positioned and oriented as it moves. Because of this, virtual objects can remain accurately placed, regardless of where your phone is pointed at.

With environmental understanding, ARCore detects horizontal surfaces, such as a desk or floor, using the same points used for motion tracking. This allows ARCore to be aware about your surroundings. Finally, ARCore detects the ambient light and allows developers to light virtual objects so they can match the surroundings. This increases the level of immersion when using ARCore-powered apps.

If all of this sounds a bit familiar, that is because Google seems to have brought over much of what makes Tango tick. In fact, Google is removing the Tango branding in favor of ARCore, signaling a big shift for the company’s overall AR efforts.

Alongside ARCore, Google also announced that it will release prototype browsers that allow developers to create AR-enhanced websites that can run on both ARCore and ARKit.

Project Tango

Project Tango

Google has spent the past three years working on another augmented reality platform called Project Tango. However, unlike ARCore, that platform relied on purpose-built hardware with specialized sensors designed to measure the distance of objects in the physical world , sensors that most phones and tablets lack.

Only a handful of device makers actually built smartphones and tablets with the necessary hardware, and the project failed to entice developers into creating apps that only a limited audience could use.

Although the specialized hardware used in Project Tango allows for more precise and, arguably, more immersive augmented reality experiences, Apple and now Google  are betting that having a more accessible experience that runs on a wide range of current phones and tablets is a better bet for making augmented reality a commercial success.

Augmented Reality (AR) can be fun technology to play with. The basic premise of AR is to overlay digital content on top of real things using something like a map or a camera. Google thus wants AR to become a daily habit for Android users. Not to forget the potential in action with AR’s current standard-bearer, Pokémon Go the location-based mobile game that has brought in well over $1 billion in revenue through in-app purchases.

As for ARCore itself, it is now available for Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL, as well as Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus running Android 7.0 Nougat and up. Google is targeting 100 million devices by the end of the preview, with the search giant working with Samsung, Huawei, LG, ASUS, and others to make that target a reality.

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28 February 2018


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