Google has experimented with augmented reality via its Tango platform, but that requires specific hardware, like the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, to work. Now, as Apple prepares to unleash AR capabilities within iOS 11, Google has a new SDK that brings augmented reality to existing and future Android phones.
ARCore builds on Tango, "but it works without any additional hardware, which means it can scale across the Android ecosystem," Burke says. For now, it will work on the Pixel and Samsung's Galaxy S8, provided they are running Android 7.0 Nougat and above.
"We're targeting 100 million devices at the end of the preview," Burke says. "We're working with manufacturers like Samsung, Huawei, LG, Asus, and others to make this possible with a consistent bar for quality and high performance."
ARCore—which works with Java/OpenGL, Unity and Unreal—focuses on three things: motion tracking, environmental understanding, and light estimation. Your phone's camera will make sure "virtual objects remain accurately placed," Burke says, while "ARCore can detect horizontal surfaces using the same feature points it uses for motion tracking" for objects on a floor or table.
Developers will also be able to "light virtual objects in ways that match their surroundings, making their appearance even more realistic," he says.
AR will not be limited to phones, so Google is "releasing prototype browsers for web developers so they can start experimenting with AR, too," Burke says. "These custom browsers allow developers to create AR-enhanced websites and run them on both Android/ARCore and iOS/ARKit."
Google already has a few of those websites, like Blocks and Tilt Brush, which are intended to help anyone create 3D content for use in AR apps.
Look for more details "later this year." For now, developers can provide feedback on GitHub and show off their creations online using the #ARCore hashtag.