It's Google vs. Apple in the race for AR smartphones

 

Its Google vs. Apple in the race for AR smartphones
Phone-based augmented reality got a boost from Pokemon Go.

san francisco - Google unveiled tools to make AR apps for mobile devices using the Android operating system

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Published: Wed 30 Aug 2017, 7:47 PM

Last updated: Wed 30 Aug 2017, 9:50 PM

Alphabet's Google on Wednesday unveiled tools to make augmented reality apps for mobile devices using the Android operating system, setting up its latest showdown with Apple's iPhone over next-generation smartphone features.

Phone-based augmented reality (AR), in which digital objects are superimposed onto the real world on screen, got a huge boost from the popularity of the Pokemon Go game. The game, launched in the United States in July last year, sent players into city streets, offices, parks and restaurants to search for colourful animated characters.

Analysts expected the game to make $3 billion for Apple over two years as gamers buy "PokeCoins" from its app store.

Google's take on the technology will first be available on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Google's own Pixel phone. The company said in a blog post that it hoped to make the system, called ARCore, available to at least 100 million users, but did not set a date for a broad release.

Apple in June announced a similar system called ARKit that it plans to release this autumn on "hundreds of millions" of devices.

Google and Apple will jockey for the attention of customers and software developers who will build the games, walking guides and other applications that would make AR a compelling feature.

Many tech industry leaders envision a future in which eyeglasses, car windshields and other surfaces can overlay digital information on the real world. Google and Microsoft have already experimented with AR glasses.

"AR is big and profound," Apple chief executive Tim Cook told investors earlier in August. "And this is one of those huge things that we'll look back at and marvel on the start of it."

Apple and Google have had to make compromises to bring the technology to market. In Apple's case, the company decided to make its AR system work with devices capable of running iOS 11, its next-generation operating system due out this autumn.

This means it will work on phones going back to the iPhone 6s, which have a single camera at the back and standard motion sensors, rather than a dual camera system found on newer models such as the iPhone 7 Plus or special depth-sensing chips in competing phones. That limits the range of images that can be displayed.

Google initially aimed to solve this problem with an AR system called Tango that uses a special depth-sensor, but only two phone makers so far support it. With ARCore, Google changed course to work on phones without depth sensors. - Reuters


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