ARCore was first released in 2017 as a library for developers to create immersive augmented reality experiences, based on Google's work with Project Tango. The library is now used by countless games and applications, including Pokémon Go, and now it has passed one billion installations worldwide.
Now that more people are staying at home these days, augmented reality has the potential to become even more important. AR may not be as novel as it once was, but that doesn't mean Google isn't continually expanding its ARCore SDK to more devices to enable them to seamlessly access AR experiences like its virtual zoo.
It looks like 5G is the standard of choice in a galaxy far, far away, as Google and Lucasfilm have teamed up to create a Mandalorian AR experience that is only available on 5G Pixel phones and "other select 5G Android" handsets. Interestingly enough, you don't actually need to be on a 5G connection to get in on the fun, and when we sideloaded the app to older, 4G-only phones, we noticed that the experience is running just fine.
Google's ARCore SDK is designed to make it easier to develop augmented reality apps. To guarantee a consistent experience across devices, the company certifies devices through a specific process that ensures the camera, motion sensors, and CPU perform as expected. For instance, a certified ARCore phone has access to Google's 3D Animal library in Search and Playground, and has been tested to work properly with these services.
Even if stay-at-home orders are slowly lifting all around the globe, we're mostly supposed to stay inside to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. But that shouldn't stop us from exploring things we'd normally see in museums or shops thanks to 3D models available in Google Search on Android and iOS. We've already covered which animals and pets you can lure into your home, but if you and your kids get tired of acting as an amateur zoologist, there is a whole world to explore, starting with planets and space crafts courtesy of NASA over anatomy all the way to shopping for shoes, and most recently, chemistry models.
In late August, Google updated its list of devices that support ARCore with an addition of 28 new phones including Google's brand-new Pixel 4a, the LG Velvet 5G, Moto G8 Power Lite and G Pro, Vivo X50 and X50 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy A20, A20s, A30s, and Z Flip 5G, among a whole lot more. This time, the company's once again topped up the list with eight more.
Last year during Google I/O (it feels so long ago), Google introduced AR animal models you can put into your home, available right through Google Search without requiring extra software. Over the following year, the company has added many more 3D models to its library, including skeletons, planets and other celestial bodies, NASA equipment, anatomic models, cell structures, and many more. Now Google has expanded the list of supported 3D models with chemistry terms.
Summer is in full swing, which means the air and ground are teeming with little critters, crawlies, and other tiny things that fly and buzz. If you're not having enough of those buggers in real life, you can now view them in AR through your phone's screen as Google just added 23 insects to its collection of 3D animals in search.
GPS has made it possible to always know where you are. Actually, scratch that—not always. GPS can be flaky in dense urban areas, but Google has a solution. The Live View AR feature from walking navigation is now available as an option to calibrate your location and orientation. The option is a bit hidden, though.
On many Android devices, Google Search lets you view tons of 3D models like animals, pets, skeletons, cells, Neil Armstrong's spacesuit, and much more. With the tap of a button, you can move these objects into your home and see them as though they were in your camera's viewfinder. It's even possible to snap photos and take videos. The list of supported phones is ever-expanding — devices like the Sony Xperia 1 II, the Poco X2, the Xiaomi Redmi K30, and Samsung's Galaxy Tab S6 Lite made the cut we when checked in at the beginning of June, and now a few more are popping up, including the flagship Galaxy S20 series.