Today, Samsung and Google announced a partnership to bring Google’s new ARCore framework to Samsung’s line of Galaxy smartphones, uniting the two giants’ augmented reality efforts as the market is starting to really crowd. The news is a big boon for Google’s ARCore, which Google announced earlier this year as a competitor to Apple’s ARKit. It is effectively a software platform for building out AR apps that make use of both advances in cloud software and on-device hardware to place digital objects into the real world.
Now, developers will be able to design ARCore apps that work on both Google Pixel devices and Samsung Galaxy devices, including the Galaxy S8 and Note 8. Samsung was an initial launch partner for ARCore with the S8, but this is a more formal adoption of Google’s framework for any and all future devices, the company said today at the Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco.
Samsung, which sells more phones than any other device manufacturer on the planet, has been a longtime ally of Google’s in pushing the ubiquity of Android, and this partnership should extend the strength of Android into the AR market. The partnership is also good news for the AR market, as Samsung has historically chosen to push its own, more fledgling software over more obviously superior or better-positioned alternatives. With a manufacturer as popular as Samsung on board, ARCore could take off.
Announced back in August, ARCore is a kind of evolution of Google’s existing Project Tango initiative, which relied on depth sensors and cameras to 3D map environments so that they could be populated with interactive digital objects. Tango has had a meandering path since its introduction in 2014, and it remains more of a hardware effort tied to distinct handsets like the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and the Asus ZenFone AR. ARCore, on the other hand, is a more direct competitor to Apple’s ARKit, and it’s a less intensive but more accessible software platform for bringing AR experiences to less powerful devices.