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Google, Apple face off over augmented reality technology

From Reuters - August 29, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google on Wednesday unveiled tools to make augmented reality apps for mobile devices using the Android operating system, setting up its latest showdown with Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) iPhone over next-generation smartphone features.

Phone-based augmented reality (AR), in which digital objects are superimposed onto the real world on screen, got a huge boost from the popularity of the Pokmon Go game. The game, launched in the United States in July last year, sent players into city streets, offices, parks and restaurants to search for colorful animated characters.

Analysts expected the game to make $3 billion for Apple over two years as gamers buy "PokCoins" from its app store.

Google's take on the technology will first be available on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Google's own Pixel phone. The company said in a blog post that it hoped to make the system, called ARCore, available to at least 100 million users, but did not set a date for a broad release.

Apple in June announced a similar system called ARKit that it plans to release this fall on "hundreds of millions" of devices.

Google and Apple will jockey for the attention of customers and software developers who will build the games, walking guides and other applications that would make AR a compelling feature.

Many tech industry leaders envision a future in which eyeglasses, car windshields and other surfaces can overlay digital information on the real world. Google and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) have already experimented with AR glasses.

"AR is big and profound," Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook told investors earlier in August. "And this is one of those huge things that we will look back at and marvel on the start of it."

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