RIP Tango: Google announces ARCore, its answer to Apple's ARKit

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On 29 August, the computer giant announced ARCore, a platform for Android app developers to build augmented reality games and experiences.

Manufacturers to work alongside Google to build and use the ARCore platform include Samsung, Huawei, LG and ASUS to build the platform.

The announcement comes almost three months after Apple announced its own augmented reality development platform for developers, called ARKit, in June.

By means of your phone's camera (no additional hardware), ARCore knows where it stands as the device moves and can accurately place objects in space and keep them pinned down.

Light estimation: ARCore observes the ambient light in the environment and makes it possible for developers to light virtual objects in ways that match their surroundings, making their appearance even more realistic.

In the blog, Android Engineering VP, Dave Burke, announced the release of ARCore which developers can start experimenting with rightaway.

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ARCore works initially with the Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphones running Android 7.0. With ARCore, Google changed course to work on phones without depth sensors. This comes after Apple has revealed their answer to AR with their ARKit. Tango uses multiple cameras and sensors in order to properly function, which boosts the cost, size, and weight of the device. Fortunately, Google is bringing similar technology to standard Android phones. For the time being, ARCore is only available on Android, meaning that the ARCore SDK, when added to Unity, can only create content for Android for the time being. The company also says it has placed an emphasis on ensuring tasks like the reflection of light, colour temperature and shadows, are easier for developers to implement properly in their AR apps.

Basically, it won't be as good as Tango devices in terms of superimposing AR images over the real-world, but it's a lot more accessible. "ARCore is our next step in bringing AR to everyone, and we'll have more to share later this year", Burke wrote.

Google states that its AR will help a user open up a virtual portal to hidden worlds using any physical surface.

Motion tracking is achieved by using the phone's camera to observe feature points in the room and inertial measurements from the device's IMU sensor.

Google meanwhile is attempting to develop a system which would equally be capable of being installed on the 100 million devices that now run the Android operating system, but is behind Apple on creating something lightweight that could be run on older devices.

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