ARCore is a new set of API's, Frameworks and tools to allow real time Augmented Reality(AR) apps to work on a standard Android device. What is AR as opposed to VR? Great question! It's a program that will put digital objects and visuals in your view of the actual world through your VR Headset. 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.
Latest ARCore News
December, 2018 - ARCore Developer Preview 2 has been released
As of December 15th, 2017, Google released an update to their ARCore Developer Preview with a few awesome improvements to SDK! This includes a new C API for Android NDK that helps improve your experiences with Java, Unity, and Unreal SDKs. Also, now you can pause and un-pause your AR sessions! Then they also improved accuracy and run-time for the anchor, plane finding, and point cloud APIs.
Followed with all of these exciting updates Nikhil Chandhok, the Project Manager for Google AR & VR, has said within the next few months they'll be releasing ARCore v1.0! When this happens, Google says that it'll support more than 100 million devices with numerous ARCore apps scheduled to launch in the Play Store at the same time. Now, there is a bit of sad news as well. Based on what in his new update, they will be stopping the support on Project Tango.
Already have it installed?
If ARCore is already installed into your device, check out these games and apps to see what you can do! If not, continue on to learn how to get ARCore on your phone!
- AR Stickers
- Horizon Explorer
- ARCore Solar System
- 99 Snowballs for ARCore (Preview)
- Gnome Cam
- ARcore GR and ARCore Experiments
- Atom Visualizer
How do You Install The ARCore App?
Setting up your Android Studio
These steps are to be completed on your computer not your android phone.
Android Studio which includes the SDK (Software Development Kit).
- Install Android Studio by following this link.
- Launch the .exe file you downloaded. This will open a Set Up Wizard. Follow the instructions for it and allow the application to install on your computer. Opt to run Android Studio when it finishes downloading.
- If you have Studio settings to import, select the folder where they reside and hit "OK". If you don't this step is not detrimental, so you can keep "Do not import settings" selected and hit "OK".
- The next promps will have you choose settings and preferences for your actual app. Select the ones you want and the app will then begin to Download the Components. This will take a bit of time.
- Select "Finish".
- Select to open an existing project, which will promt you to load "Hello". Do just this. Don't dismiss the tips that pop up. You want to read them, especially if you are new.
Preparing Android Native Development Kit (NDK)
These steps are to be completed on your computer not your android phone.
NDK is a set of tools that will allow you to use C and C++ codes with Android. This is good for reusing other's C or C++ libraries or run computationally intensive applications, such as games or physics simulations.
The process is complicated because there are so many steps, but they are all pretty simple so don't let it intimidate you. I've included the video above to help walk you through the steps ina visual process.
Get your device ready
Supported Android devices include Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, and Samsung Galaxy S8 (SM-G950U, SM-G950N, SM-G950F, SM-G950FD, SM-G950W, SM-G950U1).
These next few steps are to be completed on your phone, not your computer.
First, enable developer options.
- Select System.
- Select About phone.
- Find the build number and tap those worse 7 times. If you have a pin set up to your device, it will prompt you to enter it. If this was completed properly a message will appear at the bottom saying you are now a developer. Now, when you go back to the System screen there will be a new option labled Developer.
- Scroll down and enable USB debugging. This will allow your phone to work with Android Studio.
- Follow this link to install ARCore to your phone.
- Connect your phone to your computer via USB.
- Install ARCore by running the following ADB command:
adb install -r -d arcore-preview2.apk
Opening your sample project
Go back to your computer where you should still have Andriod Studio, Hello AR open. If your required dependencies are not installed, Android Studio will ask you for permission to download and install them on your machine.
- Connect your device to Android Studio by clicking app in the Project window, and then select Run.
- In the Select Deployment Target window, select your device, and click OK. Android Studio installs the app on your connected device and starts it. You should now see "Hello World!" displayed in the app running on your device.
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.
AR Stickers is the most fun you can have in AR without having to go through the trouble of turning your phone into a developer device. After you download this device to your phone it's time to change the world around you into whatever your hearts' desire.
You want Storm Troopers to invade your home? You want the Millennium Falcon to swoop in through your window? You got it! Download the app straight from the Google Play Store and rock the world around you however you want.
Horizon Explorer allows you to view parts of the world you normally can't in two really cool ways. The first one takes you to a point on the map where you can then move your phone around to see the different parts of the street view. Imagine using google street view, except actually moving around instead of just swiping your finger to see the next part.
The other cool experience it can do is what I've shown in the picture above. It gives you a satellite view of the selected area that is dumped right into the environment around you. From here you can chose to view the environment from a birds-eye view and scale the area! If you're into seeing all parts of the world this app is a recommendation.
ARCore Solar System
Solar Systems, space, stars, planets, death defying black holes. There's nothing about space that isn't as equally interesting as it is dangerously fun. But alas, not everyone is a astronaut or just, you know, have a space ship at their disposal. That's okay! ARCore now has an app where you can plop that gorgeous galaxy down right in your living room and interact with it from the comfort of your lazy chair.
A lot of people seem to be having problems with getting the app to work, but I found using my Pixel 2 that I didn't have any issues at all. The two compatible devices they have listed are the Pixel and Samsung 8, so be sure you are working from those devices if you wish to try this app.
99 Snowballs for ARCore (Preview)
The best time for a snowball fight is usually when there is actually snow on the ground. But maybe you're one of those whose heart perpetually lives in Christmas. Well, 99 Snowballs for ARCore has brought you Christmas in July (or whenever the heck you wanna play it) with this fun game you can play with your friends. So grab your phone, punch that snowman and get ready for a right and proper snowball fight. You know, without the hassle of frozen fingertips.
There was far more excitement than I'm willing to admit when I saw this app in the Play Store. It seems like such a small thing, but it's always those little things that bring us the most joy. Like, I don't know, attaching gnome stickers into your world and taking cute pictures with him?! It's like all of the prayers I didn't know I had were answered.
Gnome Cam allows you to chose from a few different gnomes and place them into your environment. After a picture is taken you can add a boarder to resemble a Polaroid picture with a cute hand-written note at the bottom. Let me tell you, my social medias are about to get a LOT more interesting.
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!
January, 2018: We've updated this article with new information on ARCore.