Back in June 2020, Niantic announced Catan – World Explorers, an augmented reality map exploration game in the same vein as Pokémon GO, the developer's bread and butter. Catan, of course, is a popular board game that's had several digital adaptations published on the Play Store, and it would seem Niantic was chomping at the bit to utilize its AR platform to turn the entire world into a Catan gameboard, but this has not panned out. Thanks to a recent blog post, we now know Niantic plans to sunset Catan – World Explorers on November 18th. Luckily, the game never made it out of testing, and so only those living in the game's soft-launch regions will be affected.
Despite the popularity of competitors like Instagram, Snapchat's still an insanely popular messaging app. Hell, it even managed to hit one billion installs on Android before Google Messages. That doesn't mean Snap Inc. has stayed confined to developing its smartphone. Experiments like AR glasses and original programming have pushed Snapchat far beyond its original concept. With a newly-reworked iteration of Scan, the company's looking to bring AR search results to its massive fanbase.
If you're on the fence about Google's new Pixel 5a, the company has just rolled out a new feature on the Google Store that might make it a little easier to decide — or, at least, see if you're comfortable with the phone's size. The Google Store product listing now has an AR demo that lets you see what the phone looks like, and the scale is actually pretty dang close on an iPhone, though the demo seems to be broken right now for Android.
Google's ARCore SDK makes it easier to develop augmented reality apps but also ensures a consistent experience across devices. For this purpose, the company certifies devices through a specific process that confirms 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.
We here in the United States are sliding into a holiday weekend, with Independence Day falling on Sunday this year. Google has designed a new AR game to celebrate the occasion, combining fireworks, national landmarks, and Guitar Hero into one odd experience.
Sometimes, remote tech support involves more than just taking over your parents' computer using TeamViewer and co, like when the laptop just won't turn on or when the TV doesn't automatically default to the right HDMI input. That's where video calls and complicated instructions come in. "Hit this button. No, the other one. What do you mean it didn't turn on?" or "Plug in the cable. In the connector on the left, with the square plug. No, no, not this one!" are just a few conversations too many of us have probably had in their lives, these days more than ever.
To nobody's surprise, Niantic has yet another augmented reality game in the works. This time around, the studio has partnered with Hasbro and TOMY to create a game where players will battle and interact with familiar characters from the Transformers universe. The game is called Transformers: Heavy Metal, and as you would expect, it will utilize Niantic's Lightship AR platform, much like Pokémon GO, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and Ingress Prime.
Google can already consider ARCore a success, with the app hitting one billion installs on the Play Store in December 2020. The company has also shared that about 850 million devices with an ARCore certification are currently active, so it's no wonder Google is invested in improving the experience that gives us AR animals as well as TikTok and Duo filters. Following the I/O keynote, the company is launching ARCore 1.24, which introduces a so-called Raw Depth API and the Recording and Playback API.
After accidentally teasing a few upcoming phones before removing them again earlier this year, Google has published a proper update to its ARCore support page, revealing that the augmented reality library is now supported by 24 more devices. This time around, all of them have already been announced.