It's hard to believe, but Google's Street View is officially 10 years old. What started out as a goofy little side project (like many of Google's most interesting products) has now managed to image numerous countries in every continent on the planet. The Google Maps add-on has even managed to gain a new lease of life with respect to virtual reality, and has proven popular as an educational tool taking learners all around the world on tours to places they might never get to see with their own eyes.
In all of the hubbub of yesterday's I/O keynote, Google took some time to mention a few changes and additions coming to Daydream and Tango, its virtual and augmented reality platforms respectively. While we got some interesting news about Standalone and WorldSense, Google has revealed more information about what we can expect from the future of VR/AR.
2 years ago at I/O, Google introduced Expeditions, an educational tool allowing teachers to take their classes on virtual reality field trips, and it's since been experienced by more than 2 million students around the world. It could be used with an inexpensive viewer such as Google Cardboard to tour a variety of virtual spaces, such as Antarctica or the International Space Station. During this year's I/O keynote, Google's VP of Virtual Reality Clay Bavor announced a new feature for the app — it now includes an AR mode.
The Wall Street Journal has just released a new Android app called WSJ AR. It is an augmented reality app that allows you to navigate a visualization of the US stock market via your Tango phone. In addition to overall market representations, you can zoom in to look at individual stock details, view headlines related to the selected stock, and save your favorites.
This is definitely an "Oops" moment for Qualcomm. The chipset manufacturer accidentally leaked/revealed the newest Asus device ahead of the CES announcement. While new devices are sometimes worth getting excited about, this one is actually special: the ZenFone AR, as it is named, will be the second phone with Tango built in. Qualcomm noted in its now removed blog post that the ZenFone AR will use the Snapdragon 821 SoC and that the new phone would also be Daydream-ready. Of course, this would be the first device to run both of Google's augmented and virtual reality platforms.
ViewRanger is popular among outdoorsy people for its hiking trails and off-road topographical maps from different sources and known publishers. The fact that you can track and create your own trails, navigate using an Android Wear watch, and keep all your maps offline for use when away from a signal is more than just one big plus. And now there's a new cool feature for ViewRanger users: Skyline.
Skyline is an augmented reality map layer inside the ViewRanger app. It transforms your camera view into a lively map, pointing out the peaks, cliffs, lakes, glaciers, towns, villages, mountain passes, and other known places as you pan around your environment.
Last month Nintendo started a closed beta program for Pokémon GO, the augmented reality catch-em-all game that the company has been working on with Niantic. It looks like we're very close to a public release, at least according to Nintendo's presentation at the massive E3 gaming convention. As reported by Polygon, Nintendo announced that the game will be released on smartphones sometime in July.
If you're old enough to have been around for the coolest parts of the 20th century, you know Duck Hunt. I don't need to explain this, do I? No. You know all about the bright orange gun and that annoying little dog and getting frustrated and walking right up to the screen and shooting an 8-bit duck point blank in the pixel. This is your childhood. And now, it's on your phone in a fantastic clone that utilizes the gyroscope in the best possible way.
Ignoring for just a moment the silly AR mode (which actually didn't work very well when I tried it), Duck Retro Hunt has one advantage over the myriad of Duck Hunt clones on the Play Store: instead of using a touch screen, you have to aim your phone in a gyroscope-powered virtual world to shoot the little birds.
NASA is kind of awesome. In case you live under some red rocks, the organization sent this crazy robot to Mars that sends us back high-resolution photos. The future is amazing. Of course, there's nothing the space administration loves more than curiosity (which is why they named the Mars rover after it), and it's aiming to fuel yours with this 3D model explorer.
In a somewhat odd move, instead of simply providing the 3D models themselves, the app requires you to print out some markers. Then, as you've seen in other AR apps, you point your camera at the page and the model appears.
I'm going to be up front: I want Glass. I'm thoroughly intrigued with the idea, I love the possibility of having an always-available camera that sees whatever I see, and completely hands-free Google sounds like a perfectly natural progression of the things like Google Now and voice actions. In the world where personal digital assistants seem commonplace, why should we not expect those things to be always accessible and visible?
Well, apparently there are a lot of reasons. And don't get me wrong. There are many legitimate causes to be skeptical. As is typical of the tech community, however, some things people have focused on are completely silly.