After integrating Snapchat into its latest Galaxy A Series smartphones, Samsung is trying out a new AR camera app for its army of mobile devices.
The company recently released a beta version of AR Canvas, an experimental app for its Galaxy smartphones that gives users the ability to create semi-persistent AR scenes with a variety of images.
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Using the rear-facing camera, users can type out and anchor 3D text, doodle, embed GIFs, and place photos from their photo gallery into their physical surroundings.
AR Canvas also includes the ability to copy images recognized by the camera and paste them elsewhere in the scene, an ability previously seen in apps like Weird Cuts and DoodleLens.
With the scene set, users can then save the scene for others to view it in that location within 30 days.
"AR Canvas provides fun features to decorate the space around you with AR contents," wrote a community manager in an official Samsung forum post. "Decorate space or leave a message in a specific place, and bring it back again. Now you can leave the scribble 'I love this place' in AR, in your favorite café. You can even fill the wall with pictures of your favorite athletes or idols in your room. If you want to leave a secret message in your home, classroom, or workplace, you can create your own special space."
The app is available via the Galaxy Store for eligible Samsung devices running a minimum of Android 11 and OneUI 3.0, namely A51 5G, A71 5G, S10, S10+, S10 5G, Z Flip 5G, Note20, Note20+, Note10, Note10+, Z Fold2, S21, S21 Ultra, A80, S21+, S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra. However, Samsung is working to expand compatible devices beyond this limited list.
The idea of making AR art creation persistent, a property of the AR cloud concept, is not new. We've seen the dynamic previously introduced by apps like Mark AR, which leverages ARCore Cloud Anchors, and Display.Land from Ubiquity6. Samsung has also teased AR cloud capabilities previously with its own Project Whare platform. While the concept hasn't quite taken hold yet, it remains an intriguing goal for AR content that could become ubiquitous in the smartglasses era.
In the smartphone era, though, Samsung has a history of first introducing new AR experiments within its Galaxy sandbox. The company recently sunset the AR features of Bixby Vision and left out depth-sensing cameras from its more recent devices after introducing the components with the Galaxy S10 5G. Considering the app is labeled as an experiment, it may not have long enough legs to exist far beyond beta, but it provides Samsung with insights on how to iterate on the idea for the future, particularly with its own smartglasses plans.
AR Canvas also perpetuates a concerning trend of walled gardens in AR, with Apple's For All Mankind app limited to iOS and requiring LiDAR sensors for certain content and Google's The Mandalorian AR app published for Android only, and locked to 5G devices at that. Hardware limitations are one thing, but OS barriers are an avoidable issue that slow AR adoption in the name of competition.