ARCore is for developers right now, but there are some fun things for us laymen to try out.
ARCore is a new set of API’s, Frameworks and tools to allow real time Augmented Reality apps to work on a standard Android device. Based on the work they’ve done with Project Tango, ARCore removes the need for specialized hardware making room scale VR in reach of the common Cell Phone.
How do You Install The ARCore App?
I have to admit it has been a long while since I’ve had to use ADB to push an app and it wasn’t as straight forward as i remember, probably because i’m old and crotcthety, but still. If you don’t know what ADB is, it allows you to push App Packages, called APKs, from your laptop to the phone.
Once you have everything downloaded open your command window and follow the instructions at ARCore to send the APK to your device. Currently the only devices that are ARCore capable are the Pixel, Pixel XL, and Samsung S8.
Ok so now we can Play?
Even when the ARCore package is installed you won’t see anything on your phone. It is a set of tools and frameworks, not an app you can open and browse. This means you will need to find content that uses the ARCore Framework.
Unfortunately, a lot of the really cool experiments that Google has put together aren’t available to try on your phone. There are some that’s code is available at GitHub but for the average Laymen they are esssentially out of reach. You can see these experiments in video form over at g.co/arexperiments I’m not really sure why they didn’t make them available to try out as part of the ARCore package, some of them are truly amazing, instead we need to look for 3rd party experiments on the play store itself.
What Apps are Available?
Precious few right now, but you can see the potential in some of them. Here is a brief synopsis of each.
ARcore GR and ARCore Experiments
ArCore GR is the most basic thing you can do with ARCore but it does show the mechanics hiding in the background. As the App scans for surfaces, you see the little pixels dotted around the screen. Once they have found your surface you get a yellow grid pattern, very similar to a holodeck floor, that you can then place litlle Bugdroids on.
Thats about all there is to it though, you can move the phone around to see the Bugdroid from all angles but not interact with it in any other way.
ARCore Experiments does exactly the same as ARCore GR but with a few added extras. One shows a spinning logo that help shows how movement works in ARCore, again it’s very basic but at least it moves! The last experiment is a drawing tool. Athough it’s very rudimentary you can see how a drawing tool in AR could paint different surfaces in different textures.
So far Atom Visualizer is the most fully realised app using the ARCore framework. It’s still fairly simple, it scans the area, finds surfaces, and lets you place objects on it. The objects in this case are all the elements of the Periodic Table. Placing a Hydrogen atom on a surface shows an electron spinning around a proton that can be viewd from all angles like the Bugdroids in the other apps.
What sets Atom Visualizer apart hower is the excellent way it allows atoms to be placed in space. This gives you the chance to lay the elements out as they would look in a molecule. Not to get to into the science, but as a learning tool this could be invaluable. It gives you a glimpse at how this kind of Augmented Reality could help in schools and workplaces.
The simple answer is, if you are a regular consumer, not much can be done with ARKit right now. If you are developer there appears to some amazing applications to this Framework, Niantic for example could benefit from this. Pokemon GO is still a huge game for a lot of people. Showing Pokemon in the real world is a large part of the game and would be enhanced greatly by having surface recognition. Seeing a Pikachu on a table or on top of a car instead of randomly floating in the air would add a lot to the experience.
So watch this space folks, ARCore is coming fast and our phones may never be the same. Is there anything you would like to see from ARCore? Pitch us your best AR ideas in the comments!