Last week Google released a beta of Chrome 81 for Android, Chrome OS, Linux, macOS, and Windows, which means a stable version is just around the corner. One of the most important updates to arrive in Chrome 81 is the ability to use web-based AR apps.

Google first included WebVR, the VR-focused predecessor to the WebXR API, in Chrome 66 back in April 2018. Debuted in Chrome 79 at the end of 2019, WebXR Device API came to devices without AR support.

Now, the stable version of Chrome 81 is expected to release sometime next month, which will carry with it the ability to display web-based AR content.

According to Google’s Chromium blog, the upcoming stable version of Chrome will also include support for the WebXR Hit Test API, an API for placing digital objects in a physical world view. Google says the new API captures both the location of a ‘hit test’, or where the user taps on the screen, and the orientation of the point that was detected.

Image courtesy Google

Appealing to developers, Google says that if you’ve already used the new API to create virtual reality apps, there’s very little new to learn to use AR.

“This is because the spec was designed with the spectrum of immersive experiences in mind. Regardless of the degree of augmentation or virtualization, the application flow is the same. The differences are merely a matter of setting and requesting different properties during object creation, ” the company says.

Chrome 81 is also slated to include web-based NFC (Near Field Communications), which allows a web app to read and write to NFC tags.

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If you want to try out the beta, simply download the Chrome Beta app on your preferred device. When you do, make sure to play around with a few examples first..

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Amazing! WebAR has a big potential, especially for enterprise applications!

  • So does this work on say, a Samsung S8 phone? I downloaded chrome beta to this phone, and updated Google services ARcore , yet I still get an “AR not found” box on the samples page, though it draws the 3D content. The camera won’t come on.

    • You have to go to Chrome://flags and enable the WebXR and Hit Test.

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  • Super exciting to see more tech giants get on board with this. Seems like we’re a few short years away from VR content becoming commonplace in the browser. We’ve taken an approach to try to become a place to play WebXR games in the browser. Feel free to check it