Google is stepping up its game against Apple with the launch of ARCore, its very own augmented reality software development kit (SDK). The former is a bit late to the game since iOS 11’s ARKit is only a few weeks away now, but its arrival could be taken as a signal that AR will finally be hitting the mainstream.
To recall, Google already has an AR platform called Tango that it’s been working on for the past 3 years. That experiment has resulted in 2 spec-heavy Tango-ready phones – the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and Asus ZenFone AR. The pair hasn’t exactly set the mass market on fire, which is where ARCore fits in.
ARCore builds on Tango while expanding its reach to millions of Android devices. It doesn’t require additional hardware to work, meaning it can scale across Google’s ecosystem. The brand plans to roll it out to 100 million devices by the end of the current preview period later this year.
The Pixel and Galaxy S8 are the only ones to support ARCore at the moment. The company’s released a short video of its capabilities and put together a site to show off current experiments. The technology appears to be neck-to-neck with ARKit in terms of possibilities, with both allowing for complex graphics to interact with the real world.
The key differentiator will be in terms of reach. ARCore is limited to Nougat and above phones, while iOS 11‘s ARKit will run on the iPhone 6S and above. Apple and Google are in for a long-term showdown now, so get set for an interesting few years where consumers and developers alike try to figure out whether AR is a fad or here to stay.