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.
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.
Google Assistant might be the most widely used digital voice assistants on Android, but it isn't the only option. Samsung introduced Bixby back in 2018 with the launch of the Galaxy S8. Though it has been subject to plenty of punchlines over the years as the built-in voice assistant on Samsung devices, it did have some handy features and unique use cases. Now it looks like Samsung is giving up on AR-powered aspects of its digital assistant: Bixby Vision's reality just got less "augmented."
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.
Google's been on a roll adding AR experiences to Search this year, including tonsof animals. It sounds like we can anticipate 27 more arrivals soon. That includes plenty of dog and cat breeds, but also more exotic animals like the hippo, fennec fox, and red panda, as well a the mythological unicorn.
It would appear the CD Projekt Red subsidiary Spokko has been working on a Witcher mobile game. This game is called The Witcher: Monster Slayer, and it's a free-to-play augmented reality RPG, which means it's the latest Pokémon GO clone slated for a mobile release. Of course, Spokko has yet to provide a release date, though the studio has hinted that more details will come to light later this year.
Google is bringing some new AR experiences to its much-loved Arts and Culture app — including the terrifying ancient crustacean you see above. The new models are part of a handful of exhibits added to the app, in collaboration with London's Natural History Museum and Moscow's State Darwin Museum, among other institutions.
Over the better part of the last week, we've been investigating the curious case of the Pixel 4a and Google's Playground app. Interestingly, while the Pixel 4a ships with Playground pre-installed, the feature isn't actually available in the built-in camera app, as it is on other Pixel devices. According to Google, that's intentional, and while Playground will continue to be supported on previous devices, Google is moving beyond the app with its future AR experiences.