Google is known for cooking up many interesting experiments and investing in them as far as making them available to consumers. It is, however, also known for sometimes flip-flopping on those and abandoning them with very little warning. Nowhere is that more evident than Google’s augmented and virtual reality thrusts, which has undergone some significant changes over the years. At I/O 2019, Google reaffirms its commitment to its ARCore platform will keeping ominously silent on Daydream VR.
Google recounts how it launched ARCore only last year but its AR efforts go way back, starting with Project Tango. Google eventually abandoned the idea of requiring specialized hardware to enjoy AR on your phone. Instead, it will be simply utilizing the same camera and sensors found on almost any modern phone and applying software solutions and AI to provide the rest.
ARCore 1.9 takes that promise even further with three new features. Augmented Images, for example, is able to keep track of multiple moving images simultaneously, allowing you to, for example, use more than one AR marker to make up a set of AR objects. Environmental HDR uses machine learning and requires just one camera to understand the light around objects and fake the light and shadows to reinforce the illusion of a virtual object living in the real world.
Just as important as being able to create AR content is the ability to experience them. ARCore now adds the LG G8 ThinQ and LG V50 ThinQ to its roster but you don’t even need a separate app to see future AR demos. A web-based Scene Viewer can simply use Chrome for Android or even embed the experience in Search results in the future.
Despite all these new features for ARCore, Google hasn’t said a word about Daydream VR, formerly Cardboard VR. Although it could be credit for having kicked off the idea of using a phone to power VR experience, it has seemingly dropped out of that race very silently. Admittedly, the VR market has become more competitive over the years and Google may have felt it has little to offer in that regard.