While ARCore's user-facing Android app has been renamed to Play Services for AR, the underlying SDK still carries its old name and is alive and well – unlike Google's VR efforts. Further proving the company's commitment, Google has announced updates to its Augmented Faces and Cloud Anchors APIs just a couple of weeks after the service's two-year anniversary.
The Augmented Faces improvements aren't too exciting for us Android users, but people on iOS can now create more accurate Snapchat-like AR selfies on their devices. This has been available on Google's OS since February.
Google Play Services for AR is automatically installed and updated on eligible devices. This service unlocks augmented reality (AR) experiences built using ARCore. Automatic updates ensure that apps with AR functionality work without requiring an additional download.
New in this version:
• Improved support for multiplayer and collaborative AR experiences.
• Lighting estimation for realistic AR experiences will now react faster to changes in ambient lighting.
Cloud Anchors received the more interesting changes of the two and became more robust, reliable, and efficient. The API allows developers to create multiplayer experiences in AR across multiple Android and iOS devices, letting people experience installations such as Childish Gambino's AR game together. Developers can now use more anchors at a time, which should make for a more synchronized experience.
Google also shared insight into an experimental feature: Persistent Cloud Anchors. Through these, developers can save anchors to real-world locations, allowing users to see the same AR content at the same spot, even if they visit at different times. Google offers examples like home redesign, leaving AR notes for friends, or hiding AR objects for others to find in the real world.
The first app to be powered by these persistent anchors is Mark AR, which lets you create and share artworks in public spaces without getting into trouble with the police. Google is also looking for more developers interested in piloting the new feature.
You can download the latest version of
ARCore Google Play Services for AR at APK Mirror or see if the update is available to you on the Play Store already.