Google wants your augmented reality environment to look good. The key to AR's magic, says Google, is the way it merges the real with the unreal. In order to truly transport AR users into a new experience, objects and spaces need to look as realistic as possible. That's why the company has updated ARCore and Sceneform.
Roughly 250 million devices around the world support Google's ARCore. This growing number gives developers an increasingly large market to address and expand their user base. This is the impetus behind ARCore 1.6, which Google recently made available to developers.
The biggest part of the update impacts Sceneform, Google's 3D rendering library for Java. Older versions of Sceneform defaulted to optimizing the ambient light as yellow. In Sceneform 1.6, it now assumes the default ambient lighting is white. Google says this lines up better with the way light looks in the real world. The result? Digital objects that appear to be more natural and thus blend in with the real portion of the AR environment more seamlessly.
There's another benefit to the lighting change: objects rendered in Sceneform will appear to be affected by the user's environment. Google sites sunsets as a good example. Using Sceneform 1.6, objects that appear on the screen will look as though they are being illuminated by the red and orange hues common in sunsets.
Sceneform's built-in environmental image has been updated as well, and will provide a more neutral scene for most apps. Google says this will be most obvious in reflections on metallic surfaces depicted in your environment. Another improvement includes better plane boundary tracking.
Let's not leave out screen capture and recording. Google believes adding these two tools to Sceneform will further help developers improve the quality and engagement of their AR apps. This was born of developer requests to help with demo recording and prototyping. Google notes it can also be used as a user-facing feature so people can record and share videos on social media. The added benefit here is potentially wider exposure for your app. This functionality is found in the Surface Mirroring API for SceneView. The API lets developers display Sceneform on a device screen simultaneously as it is being rendered to another surface.
ARCore 1.6 and the associated updates to Sceneform are already available to developers. Some new devices are supported, too, like the Samsung Galaxy A3 and Huawei P20 Lite. Developers can check the official ARCore developer website for the latest code and device compatibility lists.