The primary difference between the two platforms comes down to the hardware needed to use them. Pokemon Go was a brief flash in the pan and probably did more to make people aware of AR than any previous game or product, but the battery constraints of smartphones turned it into a significant power drain. Lots of companies in tech smell opportunity (and money) in helping sort those things out. Google’s head of augmented and virtual reality, Clay Bavor, told The Verge that Google will keep striving for better cameras based on Tango technology, like a depth sensor, but these will ultimately be added to phones as just an aspect of ARCore: “I think Tango fades into the background as more an enabling technology that kind of works behind the scenes”, he explained.
“It works without any additional hardware, which means it can scale across the Android ecosystem”, wrote Dave Burke, vice president of Android Engineering at Google, in a blog post. Smartphone AR has been on Google’s agenda for a few years starting with Tango, an initiative that launched in 2014. Google’s AR and VR efforts have always focused on working for everyone. For now, there are just two phones that can run it, but Google is working on making it available on millions of other Android devices from the OEMs like Samsung, Huawei, LG and ASUS. That’s a good start. Google is also opening up ARCore to the web, describing it as “a critical component of the future of AR” and releasing prototype browsers for web developers to experiment with AR (on both Android/ARCore and iOS/ARKit).
ARCore is also able to detect horizontal surfaces using the same feature points used for motion tracking.
Environmental understanding makes sure those objects are in the right spot, so you would have a couch in the corner, not on the ceiling.
But while Google spent so much time on mobile VR (how many of us have ever seen a Gear VR or Daydream View headset in use at an airport or cafe?), Apple focused on AR, a strategy created to harness its existing advantages in the smartphone space.
Google’s ARCore literally loads to an Android device with the name “Tango Core”. While the full immersion of a VR headset may have a higher wow factor than AR, the practicality of augmented reality-measuring, shopping, traveling, and performing other actions atop the real world-are greater.
Google even created its initial ARCore demo in the form of The Wizard of Oz homage using Unity. This is important for many AR projects that place items on tabletops – such as putting a virtual toy on a kitchen table, a Minecraft build or projecting a construction project onto a conference table. Many of them are in very early stages of development. Google hopes to bring the final version of ARCore to the public before year’s end.
Didn’t Google already have some like this? Chandhok opened the camera inside the browser, which pointed at the floor.
A slew of new apps can help you see that meal before you order it, picture furniture in your home, play high-tech games, and even bring your favorite GIFS into the real world.