Google is certainly no stranger to augmented reality. But we have to hand it down to Apple for taking the initiative in announcing ARKit a few months ago. The company had just unleashed what could perhaps be the killer app to make AR totally mainstream.
Google’s answer to ARKit? Why none other than the recently announced ARCore. It won’t be so much as a direct competition, however, and actually more of a version upgrade. In fact, the company is confident that it can go mainstream as early as next year riding on its next generation Android OS.
Old Tech, New Spec
ARCore, at its core (pun intended), would essentially be the same as ARKit in terms of concept. If there is one thing ARKit has presented earlier, is that people should inevitably come up with ideas if AR can be freely and easily accessed. The same design philosophy is expected to go for ARCore as a platform. At the very least, that’s what Google optimistically projects.
There are three main detection features built on the ARCore platform, namely:
- Motion tracking via visual space positioning
- Environmental analysis for horizontal surfaces
- Light detection and intensity approximation
ARCore will offer enhanced interaction with these enumerated features without using extra hardware. Thus, it will be markedly different from Google’s previous AR platform Tango, which required specific hardware to use. This also means that, aside from its light approximation feature, spec-wise it will be slightly inferior. It would rely more on its analysis algorithms to perfectly interact with the camera’s visual space.
Google plans to implement ARCore universally on future Android 7.0 and above smartphones. In fact, the company aims for at least 100 million devices to eventually support the platform as early as this coming winter. On the development side, the platform is slated to support Java/Open GL, Unity and Unreal engines, much like ARKit.
Tango with no Tangles
Ubiquity was one of the prime selling points of Google’s Daydream VR. However, it still did not gain widespread use, simply due to the added hardware. While wearables do improve the immersive experience, the option of simply whipping up your phone from your pocket certainly beats the use of extra clunky visors or dorky glasses
In this manner, ARCore and ARKit are both on the right development track. They are headed towards AR’s basic roots: to simply use the screen of a commonly used device, above anything else.
Companies have been tackling their own iterations of AR technologies and applications for the past decade or so. However, none of their concepts have yet to break the waters. Even AR itself, after all these years, still struggles to find practical uses that will make it standard and common.
ARCore, and subsequently ARKit, however, may just be the platforms that the internet desperately needs to make the next-generation AR-inspired viral content.