News

Google Announces ARCore, the Android Equivalent to ARKit, and Updates to Google Lens

Last summer Apple announced ARKit at WWDC which rolled out along side iOS 11 in late September. By now everyone with a capable device has probably fiddled around with at least one game or app that uses ARKit in some way. I’ve found augmented reality games to be exceedingly gimmicky but apps like AR MeasureKit ($4.99) have been super useful in day to day diddling around with DIY projects at my house. Well, Google is playing catch-up with Apple with today’s announcement of ARCore, Google’s augmented reality SDK for Android.

It stands to reason that the release of ARCore means we might see more augmented reality stuff, as these days releasing a mobile app or game is all about blasting it out to as many devices as possible. According to Google, ARCore works on 100 million Android smartphones out in the wild, with “advanced" capabilities available on 13 super-recent Android devices like the Pixel 2, Galaxy S3, and similar. I’ve been digging around in the ARCore documentation to try to figure out just what “advanced" capabilities are specifically but haven’t found much. Hopefully once developers start digging into actually implementing this we’ll get some clarification.

Potentially more interesting when it comes to general purpose use is the updates to Google Lens which in my opinion is one of the coolest things Android does right now. Basically, it uses all sorts of fancy image analysis to to recognize text and all sorts of other things inside of photos you take to make finding them easier. With the Google Lens update it will recognize even more things. Google specifically mentions that soon it will be able to identify specific dog breeds in photos, types of flowers, and more.

This sort of thing feels like science fiction to me, as I have so many photos on my iPhone that are just lost in my camera roll. Being able to search for things like “photos with dachshunds" or similar is a killer feature I’m super excited for.