In a blog post on Friday, Google promoted its augmented reality toolkit for Android from developer preview to version 1.0, just in time for the annual Barcelona, Spain event, which begins next week and promises to offer a number of AR surprises from various companies.
At launch, ARCore will be available for 13 devices, which Google equates to 100 million smartphones in the wild. In addition to the devices supporting the ARCore developer preview, namely Google's Pixel phones and Samsung's Galaxy S7, S8, S8+, and Note 8, ARCore will work on the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, LG V30 and V30+ running Android O, Asus Zenfone AR, and the OnePlus 5.
And the ARCore universe will continue to expand, as Google is working to bring the toolkit to more devices from Samsung, Huawei, Motorola, Asus, Xiaomi, Nokia, ZTE, Sony Mobile, and Vivo throughout 2018. In China, Google will also bring ARCore support to devices sold there from Huawei, Xiaomi, and Samsung.
To commemorate the release, Google shared some of the ARCore experiences that will be available today and in the future. Snapchat users will be able to step into a virtual portal to FC Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium (though previous Lenses have demonstrated this capability sans-ARCore). A forthcoming Ghostbusters World game will enable those who ain't afraid of no ghosts to hunt them in augmented reality. Porsche, an early ARKit adopter, will give users an augmented reality look at its Mission E concept car.
Along with the official launch of ARCore, Google is making it easier for developers with support for ARCore in the Emulator for Android Studio Beta, giving developers the opportunity to test their apps in a virtual environment on their desktop.
If you're not an owner of one of those 13 ARCore-friendly smartphone models, Google still has a treat for you: Google Lens. The computer vision search tool, previously available only to Pixel owners, is making its way to the latest version of the Google Photos app (iOS or Android) for English users. Though technically still in preview, Google Lens will also be available via Google Assistant on "compatible flagship devices" over the coming weeks, with more devices gaining support over time.
"With ARCore and Google Lens, we're working to make smartphone cameras smarter," wrote Anuj Gosalia, director of engineering for AR at Google, in the announcement. "ARCore enables developers to build apps that can understand your environment and place objects and information in it. 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."
The news is encouraging for Android devotees. However, ARCore availability still comes up short when compared to ARKit availability for iPhones and iPads. For instance, an 18-month-old LG V20 won't run ARCore, but an iPhone 6S that is almost a year older can run ARKit.
Google will continue to suffer at the hands of its OEM partners in this regard while Apple controls its own destiny. Still, this is a major milestone for Google, and device compatibility shouldn't be an issue as customers make their way through their own upgrade cycles.
So, fellow Androids, are you excited to get some ARCore? Let us know in the comments.
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