Upon Google's release of ARCore in February, the platform wasn't only playing catch-up with Apple and ARKit in terms of downloads, but it also lagged in capabilities, as Apple already had vertical surface recognition and image recognition on the way with ARKit 1.5 for a March release.
Fortunately for Android app developers and publishers, Viro Media has stepped up with new tools, via its Viro AR platform, that could result in an increase in the volume of available ARCore apps and bring Android closer to competitive parity with iOS.
First, Viro React enables image recognition for ARCore apps, effectively matching what similar AR apps on the iPhone and iPad can do. In addition, the platform supports ARKit 1.5, making it easier for developers to build image recognition AR apps for iOS and Android from the same codebase.
"Viro's mission is to enable AR/VR everywhere by giving developers the tools they need to build amazing immersive experiences," wrote Danny Moon, CEO of Viro Media, in a blog post. "AR gets better the more we understand the real world. Image recognition is a big step toward unlocking new use cases for AR, and we are excited to bring this to Android and across the Viro platform."
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While not a household name like Unity, Unreal, or Vuforia (which has its own image recognition capabilities), Viro has attracted a lineup of recognizable clients to its platform, including the Food Network, Streem, and Filmr.
"Our team was facing a tight deadline on an AR project and needed a solution give us a head start on 3D rendering. Viro came along at just the right time with a solid, intuitive API, extensive documentation, and responsive, knowledgeable support," said Josh Williams, Android lead for the Food Network In the Kitchen app, in a statement provided by email to Next Reality through Viro Media. "It was a pleasure to use and allowed us to get to product launch with time to spare. We're definitely looking at using Viro in our future AR projects."
The Viro development platform is free to use, with no limits on distribution. To assist developers in getting started with the new capabilities, Viro Media has shared the sample code and assets, including the Black Panther and Tesla demos displayed in this post, on its Github pages for ViroReact and ViroCore.
"The Viro platform and team were essential in getting Streem's remote AR experience into the hands of our Android users as soon as we did," said Sean Adkinson, CTO of Streem. "The product exactly fits our needs, and the team was incredibly responsive and helpful during our development stage. We would not have cross-platform AR right now without Viro."
The market for AR development tools has become increasingly active since ARKit arrived on the scene. And now, as the market for AR apps continues to grow, we can expect the market for the supporting software behind this new breed of apps to increase at a similar pace.