Google will announce a wide release of the first stable version of ARCore at this year's Mobile World Congress, Variety reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the company's plans. Originally unveiled in late August, ARCore is Google's development tool for augmented reality applications on Android devices, being meant to enable AR experiences on a broad range of smartphones. The tech giant previously said it wants ARCore to be available on 100 million devices in 2018, whereas an insider now told Variety that goal is meant to be hit next month. A global launch of ARCore at MWC would be in line with Google's recent product release roadmaps; last year, the company used the Barcelona, Spain-based trade show as an opportunity to announce an imminent worldwide rollout of the Google Assistant which has only been available on its own Pixel phones until that point.
The firm is now reportedly prioritizing handsets from its largest Android hardware partners for ARCore's upcoming launch. That list of names likely includes Samsung, LG, and HTC, though no manufacturers have been explicitly named by the source of the newly emerged information. Following the initial release wave, ARCore is likely to continue making its way to more devices over the course of this year. Approximately 11 months after releasing the Google Assistant on a global level, Alphabet's subsidiary managed to bring it to 400 million devices, the company said last month. ARCore may be distributed at a similar pace, with the solution itself being designed to be as versatile and hardware-agnostic as possible, much like the firm's digital companion.
Between Apple's ARKit and Google's own ARCore, mobile AR is expected to be one of the industry's focus points over the course of this year. Samsung is expected to be promoting AR stickers as one of the main selling points of the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus, having reportedly developed a platform that functions like a combination of Apple's Animoji and Snapchat's Bitmoji. Along with the global rollout of ARCore, the tech giant is expected to start accepting ARCore apps on the Google Play Store. ARCore will succeed Project Tango that Google is discontinuing next month after three and a half years of experimental development. The new AR platform went through two developer previews so far, the second one of which was launched in mid-December for the Pixel smartphones and select third-party Android devices.