Google's ARCore team is staying busy, as evidenced by yet another update of its augmented reality toolkit.
Available as of Friday on Google Play, version 1.4 brings passthrough camera auto-focus support, faster plane detection, and more image resolutions for computer vision to the platform. New SDKs are also available for Android, iOS, Unity, Unreal Engine.
Along with the update, Google has extended ARCore support to new devices from Huawei, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Vivo, and Xiaomi. In addition, Google has enabled support for select Huawei and Xiaomi handsets for the China region by releasing ARCore on the respective app marketplaces for the manufacturers (since Google Play is not available in China). ARCore now works with 57 Android devices, as well as ARKit-compatible iPhones and iPads for Cloud Anchors.
This update isn't just important for AR, it also gives the Android ecosystem a boost of sorts. In recent years, Google has received its share of flak for the fragmentation of Android compared to Apple's iOS. According to the Android distribution dashboard, only 12.1% of devices are on Android 8.0 Oreo, the latest version of the operating system. With 30.8% of devices on Nougat, the universe of ARCore-compatible devices is still in the minority.
However, one advantage Google does have over Apple is the fact that ARCore is actually an app rather than baked into the operating system. This gives Google a somewhat easier way to issue updates to ARCore just like any other app, rather than depending on device manufacturers to adopt new Android versions. Meanwhile, ARKit updates are dependent on Apple shipping new versions of iOS.
While this is a fairly iterative update compared to Android 1.2, it does mark the fifth update to the platform since Google officially released ARCore with version 1.0 in February. With Apple bringing persistent AR content and object recognition to ARKit 2.0 this fall, Google is showing that it has a fighter's chance in terms of matching the competition with these kinds of frequent ARCore updates.