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Google ARCore 1.0 Now Available, Google Lens-Enabled Google Photos App Coming Soon

Google revealed that its augmented reality developer kit, ARCore, is no longer in beta. The company released ARCore 1.0, and it opened the door for developers to submit AR apps to the Google Play Store. The company also revealed that it would be bringing machine learning technology to our daily lives in “the coming weeks” by embedding Google Lens technology into Google Photos.

Last summer, Google revealed ARCore, which offered high-fidelity AR experiences on high-end Android smartphones. The ARCore platform enables Tango-like spatial tracking on handheld devices without the need for multiple cameras to infer depth.

In August, when Google released the first iteration of ARCore, the company said the platform was strictly experimental, which meant that software authored with the ARCore developer kit would not be eligible for distribution through the Google Play Store. Further, you would have needed a Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, or Samsung S8 to take advantage of ARCore’s features.

In the months following the original ARCore release, Google doubled down on the platform. In December, the company announced that it would be shutting down Project Tango to put all its attention on ARCore. In December, hardware support for Google’s ARCore remained limited to Google’s Pixel phones (now with Pixel 2 support) and Samsung’s Galaxy S8 lineup. However, the company said that soon more than 100 million smartphones would have access to ARCore. With today’s release of ARCore 1.0, Google made good on that promise.

ARCore 1.0 supports 13 different Android models, including LG’s V30 and V30+, the Asus Zenfone AR, and OnePlus’s OnePlus 5. The new version also now supports Samsung’s older Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones. Google also said that ARCore would support future flagship phones from all the usual suspects.

Developer Support

Google launched ARCore with a two-pronged approach. In addition to expanding the list of compatible hardware, the company is also trying to make it easier for developers to build content for the platform. Google said that it improved ARCore’s environmental understanding, which makes placing virtual assets easier and more reliable than in previous builds. Google also added ARCore support to the Android Studio Beta Emulator, which enables developers to test their AR creations in a test environment.

When Google released ARCore, developers could experiment with creating AR experiences, but they could not distribute them. Now that ARCore 1.0 is available, Google has opened the doors for AR app submissions to the Google Play Store.

Google is even looking at ways to offer the ARCore platform to developers in China who wouldn’t normally have access to Google’s infrastructure. The company said that it’s working with Huawei, Xiaomi, and Samsung to help them distribute AR apps on the platforms available in China.

Google Photos With Lens

Somewhat lost in this large announcement is the fact that the new version of Google Photos incorporates Google Lens machine learning technology. With Lens in Google Photos, your smartphone will be able to infer information from the photos you take, such as identifying animal breeds and classifying text that’s been photographed.

Google said that it would push the Google Photos update to all English-speaking users on Android and iOS “in the coming weeks.” The company also announced that compatible flagship devices would also receive a Lens-enhanced Google Assistant app.