Just weeks after revealing plans to port one of its most vital augmented reality products from HoloLens to the smartphone world, Microsoft has finally opened the mobile software floodgates to the public.
Now, if you have an ARCore-compatible smartphone, you can try out Microsoft's Android version of its Dynamics 365 Remote Assist app for HoloLens.
Like the HoloLens version, Remote Assist users on Android can conduct one-on-one video calls with remote experts and view augmented reality annotations placed by remote experts on their smartphone's camera view.
"In response to overwhelming feedback from our customers, we have extended Dynamics 365 Remote Assist to AR-enabled Android phones," said Sheri Turner, project manager for Microsoft, in a blog post. "This new offering brings some of the most impactful HoloLens features to mobile phones and delivers additional value such as high-resolution image capture, access to tight spaces, and the ability to easily switch between apps that you are already using in your workflows."
In addition to an ARCore-compatible smartphone (tablets are not yet supported), users must have a Google Play account, which would exclude users in China, where ARCore is only available via the Xiaomi, Huawei, and Samsung app stores. Users must also have a Microsoft Teams desktop client and account, with the remote expert connecting to Android users via a Microsoft Teams desktop app running on Windows 10. Finally, Microsoft recommends a data connection of at least 1.5 mbps.
A year ago, the requirement of an Android device with ARCore support would have resulted in a much smaller pool of eligible users. Today, the list of ARCore-compatible devices exceeds 130 smartphones and tablets.
The expanded availability of Microsoft's AR apps on mobile devices pits them against entrenched enterprise AR companies, such as Scope AR, Vuforia, and Atheer, which all offer similar apps and platforms for mobile.
Of course, eventually Microsoft would prefer its customers to pony up for a fleet of HoloLens 2 devices to take advantage of this functionality, but making the app available to enterprise businesses and their workers on devices they already have serves to preview the kind of utility that AR headsets can bring to the workplace.