February 26, 2018 // 11:05 a.m.
Advertising giant Google has formally launched its ARCore augmented reality software development kit (SDK) in a 1.0 release, allowing developers to begin publishing ARCore applications to the Google Play store.
First launched in beta form back in August 2017, ARCore is designed to provide high-quality augmented reality capabilities across as much of the Android ecosystem as possible - which means no reliance on specialist hardware other than the accelerometer and camera built into all modern smartphones and tablets.
At the time of the preview, Google claimed to be targeting compatibility with 100 million devices in-the-wild through partnerships with manufacturers including Samsung, Huawei, LG, and Asus. According to Anuj Gosalia's announcement of the full release, that target has now been hit thanks to full compatibility with 13 handsets: The Google-branded Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL, Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+, Note8, S7, and S7 Edge, LG's V30 and V30+ running Android 7.0 Oreo, Asus' augmented-reality specific Zenfone AR, and the OnePlus 5. For those with devices not on that list, additional compatibility is promised - but, unfortunately, only for devices being released this year, meaning the chances of seeing ARCore working on existing handsets is slim to none.
Companies highlighted as working with the ARCore platform include Snapchat, Porsche, NetEase, Wargaming, Game Insight, JD.com, and the promised launch of a Pokémon Go-style AR game dubbed Ghostbusters World. Google itself has also been expanding its support for the platform, adding Google Lens support to the Google Assistant platform to allow it to pull information from the real world via the handset's rear-facing camera.
Those with compatible handsets can find ARCore applications on Google Play now, while flagship devices with ARCore support are expected from Samsung, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Asus, Xiaomi, HMD under the Nokia brand, ZTE, Sony Mobile, and Vivo later this year with announcements due at this week's Mobile World Congress event.