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ARCore 1.0 Ships for Augmented Reality Android Apps

With today's announcement that Google's ARCore augmented reality SDK has emerged from preview in version 1.0, developers can now use it to create augmented reality apps for distribution through the Play Store.

Augmented reality (AR), popularized with the Pokémon GO game craze of 2016, lets developers meld digital constructs with real-world imagery via three key technologies:

  • Motion tracking, which allows the phone to understand and track its position relative to the world
  • Environmental understanding, which allows the phone to detect the size and location of flat horizontal surfaces like the ground or a coffee table
  • Light estimation, which allows the phone to estimate the environment's current lighting conditions

Beyond interacting with cartoon monsters with a phone's camera, AR opens up a new world for mobile developers.

"You can place a napping kitten on the corner of your coffee table, or annotate a painting with biographical information about the artist," Google's guidance states. "Motion tracking means that you can move around and view these objects from any angle, and even if you turn around and leave the room, when you come back, the kitten or annotation will be right where you left it."

Java ARCore Code in an Android Quickstart
[Click on image for larger view.] Java ARCore Code in an Android Quickstart (source: Google)

Google said ARCore 1.0 includes functionality improvements and better support in order to make developing Android AR apps faster and easier.

"ARCore 1.0 features improved environmental understanding that enables users to place virtual assets on textured surfaces like posters, furniture, toy boxes, books, cans and more," the company said in a Feb. 23 post. "Android Studio Beta now supports ARCore in the Emulator, so you can quickly test your app in a virtual environment right from your desktop."

The company said the SDK provides advanced AR capabilities that can work on 100 million devices, with 13 models of phones supporting it now.

Along with bringing ARCore out of preview, Google also announced its associated technology that's still in preview, Google Lens, is getting some updates and being made available to more developers at the upcoming Mobile World Congress.

"Google Lens uses your camera to help make sense of what you see, whether that’s automatically creating contact information from a business card before you lose it, or soon being able to identify the breed of a cute dog you saw in the park," Google said.

ARCore 1.0 is available for three development environments: Java, Unity and Unreal. SDKs for all three can be downloaded here.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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