Daily Management Review

Augmented Reality Technology To See A Google, Apple Face Off


Augmented Reality Technology To See A Google, Apple Face Off
Setting up its latest showdown with Apple Inc’s iPhone over next-generation smartphone features, Alphabet Inc’s Google on Wednesday unveiled tools to make augmented reality apps for mobile devices using the Android operating system.
A huge boost from the popularity of the Pokémon Go game was obtained by phone-based augmented reality (AR), in which digital objects are superimposed onto the real world on screen. Players were sent into city streets, offices, parks and restaurants to search for colorful animated characters by the game which was launched in the United States in July last year.
As gamers buy “PokéCoins” from its app store, analysts expected the game to make $3 billion for Apple over two years.
Google’s own Pixel phone and on the Samsung Galaxy S8 would be the ones where Google’s take on the technology will first be available. While not setting a date for a broad release, the company hoped to make the system, called ARCore, available to at least 100 million users, it said in a blog post.
Apple plans to release this fall on “hundreds of millions” of devices its similar system called ARKit.
Software developers who will build the games, walking guides and other applications and Google and Apple will jockey for the attention of customers and software developers.
In the future, overlaying of digital information on the real world eyeglasses, car windshields and other surfaces would be possible, many tech industry leaders envision. Google and Microsoft Corp have already experimented with AR glasses.
“AR is big and profound,” Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook told investors earlier in August. “And this is one of those huge things that we’ll look back at and marvel on the start of it.”
Apple and Google have had to make compromises to bring the technology to market.
Its AR system was decided to be compatible with devices capable of running iOS 11, its next-generation operating system due out this fall in the case of Apple.
This means that rather than a dual camera system found on newer models such as the iPhone 7 Plus or special depth-sensing chips in competing phones, it will work on phones going back to the iPhone 6s, which have a single camera at the back and standard motion sensors. That limits the range of images that can be displayed.
With an AR system called Tango that uses a special depth-sensor, Google initially aimed to solve this problem. But Google was supported by only two phone makers so far. Google changed course to work on phones without depth sensors with ARCore.
But challenges are presented by the fragmentation of the Android ecosystem. Google will have to figure out how account for the wide variety of Android phone cameras or require phone makers to use specific parts to spread its AR system beyond the Galaxy S8 and Pixel phone.
Because it knows exactly which hardware and software are on the iPhone and calibrates them tightly Apple, however, is able to make its system work well.
Noting that it could estimate the size of virtual furniture placed in a room with 98 percent accuracy, despite lacking special sensors, Michael Valdsgaard, a developer with the furniture chain IKEA, called the system “rock solid.”
“This is a classic example of where Apple’s ownership of the whole widget including both hardware and software is a huge advantage over device vendors dependent on Android and the broader value chain of component vendors,” said Jan Dawson, founder and chief analyst of Jackdaw Research.