The Android 8.1 software update from Google means Pixel 2 smartphone users can engage with “Star Wars,” “Stranger Things” and other AR stickers that can be added to their photos and videos when using the Pixel camera, TechCrunch reported. The content is available a free download and, at launch, includes party-related stickers and Foodmoji, which are similar to Snapchat’s viral dancing hot dog.
The experiences are built with ARCore technology, which Google’s the company’s answer to Apple’s ARKit. Both are designed to make it easy for developers to create AR content for smartphones.
Google is promoting the AR features with an ad that shows how people can use the “The Last Jedi” stickers in their pictures and videos. The sticker pack has dynamic models of stormtroopers, imperial walkers, X-wings, tie fighters, R2D2, BB-8 and the cute new Porg creatures.
Google’s “Last Jedi” content is the tech giant’s way of showing that it’s back on track with AR technology that is accessible to a wider audience, while appealing to fans of the “Star Wars” franchise. The company’s high-end Tango platform didn’t catch on because it required electronics makers to design handsets with additional sensor hardware for AR, the technology that overlays digital images on a real background seen through a smartphone camera.
After Apple introduced ARKit to help brands and software developers create AR apps that would work on most iPhones and iPads, Google responded with the rollout of ARCore to give Android devices AR features. After launching ARCore on Pixel and Galaxy S8 smartphones, Google wants to have 100 million Android devices supported by the technology, TechCrunch reported in August.
AR is still in the early stages of development after being popularized with the Pokemon Go mobile game in 2016. Since then, marketers have gradually experimented with the technology in a variety of ways, including AR games, cosmetics demonstrations, virtual car showrooms, interior design ideas and sponsored lenses on apps like Snapchat. And AR promises to do so much more, like giving people more advanced navigation capabilities to guide them while walking or driving, viewing virtual ads inside a store or providing more detailed product information while shopping.
Worldwide spending on augmented reality and virtual reality (VR) is forecast to reach nearly double to $17.8 billion in 2018 from $9.1 billion this year, IDC forecast in a November report. The consumer sector will remain the biggest source of spending for AR/VR products and services, reaching $6.8 billion globally next year. Consumer AR/VR spending will grow 45.2% a year to more than $20 billion by 2021, IDC forecast.