In celebration of the upcoming theatrical release of Marvel's Avengers: Endgame, Google has teamed up with the publishing studio to release no fewer than five new characters to the AR-heavy Playground feature found on its Pixel devices. The new Playmoji are rolling out starting today to help fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe gear up for the movie's April 26 premiere with the addition of War Machine, Thor, Black Widow, Rocket and of course Captain Marvel.
The new characters will be usable in exactly the same way as the previous additions to Playground -- namely, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Nebula, and Okoye. That means they'll react to users' facial expressions and make use of ARCore motion tracking and light estimation for a more realistic appearance.
Users just need to download or already have installed the Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame pack on their Pixel-branded device as the characters will be added via update.
In promotion of features that the Pixel (and other Androids) brings to the table
This wouldn't be a Pixel reveal without some of Google's quirky culturally-aware flare and a new video ad spot spanning the events leading up to Avengers: Endgame is part of the announcement. Centering more prominently on features found on all modern Android gadgets but showcased via the company's own Pixel 3 handsets, that places the AI-powered Google Assistant front-and-center -- highlighting the ways a user might interact with Assistant in an Avengers' style emergency.
From the very beginning, the action in the advertisement peaks out and that doesn't stop until it comes to an end but Pixel users amid the chaos are shown keeping their cool and using their phone like they would any other day. Prime examples of the contrast include a cab driver who is forced to come to a stop when his Google Assistant informs him of a "23-hour slowdown" on his route. The driver looks up before nonchalantly commenting that it's "aliens again" before being rerouted.
Users also take advantage of Assistant to capture a selfie via voice command while another captures a short video of Iron Man. In one of the final scenes, an exasperated young woman in a cafe asks Google to play a relaxing mix of "focus" music from a playlist before going back to what she was doing.
What is Playground?
The Pixel-exclusive Pixel Playground is an ARCore-built tool that takes augmented reality to the next level, centered around "Playmoji." Those are essentially 3D AR objects intended to look like and act like the real deal instead of just acting like more traditional stickers. Users are also able to interact with them to a small degree thanks to the incorporation of algorithms that track people and objects in the immediate environment.
One of the first Playmoji Google introduced for Pixel Playground was one of Donald Glover -- AKA Childish Gambino -- which utilized those advanced features to let users dance alongside the performer. The company even kicked off a dance competition on social media to celebrate that launch using the hashtag #pixeldanceoff.
There's a new social media sharing trend for the new Avengers addition too, although there doesn't appear to be any kind of contest associated with this one. Users who want to share their poses and interactions with the new AR characters are encouraged to do that alongside the hashtag #pixelendgame.