Google ARCore: Android's equivalent to Apple ARKit explained


Offered as an early preview SDK, ARCore can be used in development environments such as Android Studio, Unity and Unreal. Apple has already demonstrated its commitment to the technology with ARKit, and now Google wants a slice of the augmented reality pie.

Borrowing a page from another major mobile operating system developer, Google announced that it is introducing ARCore, a platform for developers that will give them the tools needed to build augmented reality apps on the Android platform. AR works without any additional hardware meaning Google can scale the platform across the Android ecosystem. Light estimation allows developers to light virtual objects in ways that match surroundings, making them appear more realistic.

Apple has often been accused of putting on a facade and pretending it developed new technology that other companies had been experimenting with for years. However, while there are more Android phones in use than iPhones, Android customers are less likely to be using the up-to-date software required to run ARCore.

Google on Tuesday unveiled ARCore, its answer to iOS 11's ARKit. Part of the device manufacturers' unwillingness to jump on board with Tango had to do with building complicated devices riddled with sensors and cameras, something which Google is trying to fix now with ARCore.

Google states: "ARCore's understanding of the real world lets you place objects, annotations, or other information in a way that integrates seamlessly with the real world". However, the search engine firm aims to reach over 100 million devices that use the Android OS eventually. The company will have more to share about ARCore later this year.

Given the fact that there are way more Android users than iOS, it looks like ARCore may eclipse Apple's ARKit concerning user base. Many tech leaders envision a future in which eyeglasses, auto windshields and other surfaces can overlay digital information on the real world. At that time, the developers were focusing on creating a phone with extra sensors to implement augmented reality. Clay Bavor, Google's head of AR and VR, confirmed that Tango had fulfilled its goal and that the new platform was the future.

Motion tracking is achieved by using the phone's camera to observe feature points in the room and inertial measurements from the device's IMU sensor.

Basically, it won't be as good as Tango devices in terms of superimposing AR images over the real-world, but it's a lot more accessible. These custom browsers will allow developers to build AR-enhanced websites, which can be run on both Android/ARCore or Apple's iOS/ARKit.