Weeks after releasing ARCore 1.2 for Android and iOS devices, Google is broadening its cross-platform augmented reality support today across two applications. The educational VR/AR app Expeditions is making AR object support “available to anyone” with compatible Android ARCore or iOS ARKit devices, and the “experimental” AR drawing app Just a Line is gaining support for iPhone users.
Originally announced in May 2015, Expeditions was designed to extend classroom use of Google Cardboard, a basic virtual reality viewing system for smartphones. The app enabled teachers to share virtual reality scenes with their students and supported over 100 VR tours within months. In May 2017, Google debuted AR Expeditions, a feature to explore AR objects with integrated descriptions, initially rolling the feature out to Android users in schools via a pilot program. Today, Expeditions boasts over 100 AR objects and 800 VR tours for students to choose from.
Today’s version 2.0 update enables any ARKit-capable iOS device or ARCore-compatible Android device to display AR objects in the camera view, as well as featuring redesigned Discover, Guide, and Join screens to facilitate tour browsing and classroom sharing. To get the maximum impact out of VR tours, users will need to have a Cardboard viewer or similar lens-equipped housing, but AR content can be viewed unassisted through the screen.
By comparison, the Just a Line app is entirely new to iOS, having debuted for Android devices in March. As its name suggests, Just a Line really does only one thing — it tracks the motion of your phone in a physical space, using the data to “draw” lines that can be viewed in AR. With today’s iPhone release, however, Just a Line lets iOS and Android users collaborate on drawings, which Google says makes it “the first app that lets two people create together in AR, at the same time, across Android and iOS.”
Google enabled the cross-platform functionality by adding iOS and Android support for Cloud Anchors — shareable real-world relative location data — to ARCore 1.2 at Google I/O last month. While sharing floating AR drawings across devices is a basic concept, the company’s decision to bridge platforms with device-agnostic features like this gives Google an early lead on establishing ARCore as a broad-based augmented reality standard.
Expeditions version 2.0 and the new Just a Line — Draw in AR for iPhone are available now for download from the iOS App Store. Updates to the Android Just a Line and Expeditions apps are available through the Google Play store.