What it is: Google announced ARCore, a set of tools for creating augmented reality apps on Android.
Three years ago back in 2014, Google introduced Project Tango, which hoped to offer augmented reality to Android. Yet Project Tango didn’t seem to ignite any interest in augmented reality since that time. Then Apple introduced ARKit in 2017 and suddenly developers are rapidly creating augmented reality apps for the upcoming iOS 11.
To encourage Android developers to embrace augmented reality, Google recently announced ARCore, based on Project Tango. The main idea behind ARCore is to give Android developers access to augmented reality on Android. The huge obstacle facing Android is hardware. Many Android devices don’t possess the necessary processors to display augmented reality, which means only a handful of Android devices will be able to take advantage of ARCore. On the other hand, ARKit makes augmented reality accessible for recent models of the iPhone and iPad Pro.
So even though Android has a larger market share, fewer Android devices can run ARCore. In the meantime, iOS has a much smaller market share than Android, but a large majority of those users will be able to use augmented reality.
That means a large percentage of iPhone and iPad users will be able to use augmented reality while a large percentage of Android users will not. That will create a frustrating experience for Android. Whether that drives Android users to switch to iOS remains to be seen, but it’s likely that augmented reality will become popular first on iOS and then later become popular on Android. That big question is how long will it take before augmented reality on Android becomes as commonplace as augmented reality will become on iOS this fall?
Augmented reality will be the major difference between iOS and Android. If you can see the potential of augmented reality, then you’ll want an iPhone or iPad. If you have no use for augmented reality, then it won’t make much difference which platform you choose.
Android devices have largely caught up to the iPhone and iPad in terms of hardware, but they stumble consistently in trying to catch up to iOS in software. Android devices typically need faster processors and more memory just to fall behind slower iPhone/iPad processors that use less memory. Now with augmented reality about to arrive this fall, Apple has a new way to differentiate their products from Android competitors. Android can fight back with ARCore, but ARCore does no good if it can’t run on the majority of Android devices available today.
Augmented reality is Apple’s way of convincing people to skip Android and get an iOS device. Already third-party developers have demonstrated augmented reality apps, but it’s likely that Apple will demonstrate their own augmented reality apps for Maps and other apps that come with iOS.
The future belongs to augmented reality. Now it’s just a matter of seeing how much of a lead Apple can create between themselves and Android when it comes to the growing augmented reality market.