It’s Google’s response to Apple’s AR push.

Back in June Apple announced a new SDK and framework called ARKit that will allow developers to create stunning AR apps and games built for iOS 11. The announcement was significant as when Apple tells the world it’s pursuing a technology in a major way, it usually brings that tech into the mainstream.

To be clear, Apple didn’t invent AR, or augmented reality. Companies have been working on the tech for decades. But Apple’s involvement with it means the time is probably right for other tech companies to more their AR projects from the labs to consumers too. And that’s exactly what Google has announced it’s doing with its ARCore SDK.

What Is ARCore?

Like Apple’s ARKit, at its most basic level, ARCore is a developer framework, or a set of developer tools and services, that allows developers of apps and games to write software that will allow their apps and games to easily use Google’s in-house developed AR tech to create great augmented reality experiences. In other words: ARCore is for Android what ARKit is for iOS.

So Is ARCore An App?

Nope. And just as there is no dedicated app for iOS 11’s ARKit, there is also no dedicated ARCore app on Android devices that will support the tech. ARCore runs inside of Android apps that are built with the SDK. As with any other developer kits, the way a general consumer interacts with it is by using the app as it’s been developed. Besides having stunning AR features, if you’re a consumer there will be no other signs that the app has anything to do with ARCore.

Haven’t There Been AR Apps On Android For Ages?

Yep (Pokemon GO is one famous example). And those existing apps were made without ARCore. Developers don’t need ARCore to make AR apps for Android, but by developing the SDK for developers to use, they’ve taken a bunch of the groundwork off of the shoulders of developers. Instead of spending hours writing proprietary AR code, then can simply use the SDK that Google has created that has much of the code they need already.

What Kind Of Apps Can Be Created With ARCore?

The most obvious types of apps include games, since AR is a natural fit there. But myriad other types of apps can take advantage of AR, from mapping and shopping apps to social media and travel apps. Right now there aren’t many examples of Android apps created with ARCore because the SDK has only just been released. But you can check out the demo reel below to see what ARCore is capable of.

What Devices Support ARCore Apps?

Google says ARCore will run on millions of Android devices immediately, including the Pixel and Samsung’s S8 smartphones. As you can tell, those devices pack the latest processors and the most RAM, which gives you an idea of just how much power ARCore apps will require. By the end of the ARCore preview period (later this year) Google says their aim is to have ARCore support for hundreds of millions of Android devices running Android 7.0 Nougat as well as Android Oreo. The search giant says it’s currently working with Samsung, Huawei, LG, ASUS and other Android manufacturers to make this possible “with a consistent bar for quality and high performance.”

Anything Else I Should Know?

With Apple and now Google–the two biggest tech companies who also happen to control 99.9% of the smartphone market–now thrown their weight firmly behind augmented reality, the (virtual) world as we know it is about to radically change in ways we’ve never imagined.


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