Today at Google I/O 2018, Google announced upgrades to its ARCore augmented reality technology, including a new feature called Cloud Anchors which will let developers create multi-user applications where devices can share an augmented environment.

ARCore launched earlier this year, bringing AR functionality to 100 million Android smartphones, by Google’s count. The software allows developers to build rich AR experiences for smartphones by leveraging the camera for positional tracking and some environment mapping. Today at Google I/O 2018, the company revealed the latest upgrades to ARCore.

One of the biggest announcements was Cloud Anchors, a new feature which allows developers to connect multiple users together over the web to create multi-user AR experiences which share a synchronized augmented space. Crucially, Cloud Anchors offers support for both Android and iOS. The company showed an example of the new feature in action with an experimental version of their Just a Line app, which showed users drawing and playing together across multiple devices.

Just a Line will be updated with multiplayer support “in the coming weeks,” according to Google, and will launch on Android and iOS.

Other upgrades to ARCore include Plane Detection, which allows developers to attach objects more realistically to more surfaces, including textured walls. A new Augmented Images feature will allow images to function as symbolic markers, allowing developers to attach or overlay content onto the image. This could enable artwork and other flat images to come to life as the company shows in this example:

Furthermore Google announced Sceneform for ARCore which aims to help Java developers—who don’t usually work with 3D content—more easily develop AR apps without needing to learn 3D APIs like OpenGL. The company says that Sceneform is highly optimized for mobile—with special attention paid to performance, memory utilization, and file sizes—and can help developers build AR apps from the ground up as well as add AR to existing applications.

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Google says that developers can begin working with these new features today, and find supporting documentation on the ARCore developer website.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Laurence Nairne

    Now we’re talking.

    • Engineer_92

      Slowly but surely we’re getting to the AR world that is the future

      • Laurence Nairne

        Yeah it’s certainly getting there. Good to see the supported device list slowly expanding as well, that was my biggest gripe with it to begin with.

        Give me 3D model tracking and Vuforia can go to hell with their ridiculous pricing mechanisms.

  • Multiplayer is a game changer for AR