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Google's iPhone-to-Android multiplayer AR feels like the future



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Multiplayer AR gaming is here.


Scott Stone / CNET

When will we begin to experience multiplayer augmented reality that connects a common space between phones? Oh, in the next few weeks. While AR and VR announcements were generally quiet at this year's Google I / O Developer Conference, a new update for Google's ARCore called Cloud Anchors is extremely exciting.

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Multiplayer AR games come thanks to Google. We…


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Let me explain that because I just played a game with it and it was really cool.

Cloud anchors are common data points in the cloud that multiple devices can access. AR on phones, like ARKit on the iPhone and ARCore on Android, were single experiences. The same goes for headsets like Hololens. The only AR multiplayer I ever tested was Star Wars Jedi Challenges on a Lenovo headset, and that was more like synchronized swimming, in which two people simultaneously perform moves.

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setting


Scott Stein / CNET

Light Board is a Google-created game demo for iOS and Android that works with the Cloud Anchors featured here at the Google conference. I've set up a small home with colored markers, and someone from Google has done the same thing on another Android phone. I shot virtual rockets at their target and they shot at mine. Who lights up all the goals first, wins.

The game feels like other ARKit or ARCore games, layering 3D effects over the phone screen into the real world. But here we play and share the experience at the same time.

There is a huge opportunity for joint multiplayer AR board games or next generation pokemon fights or magic spells. But the killer apps could be here in shared shared space ideas beyond games. Google suggests group murals, but also large-scale educational projects, installation art, ways to map and layer information in rooms. It feels like one of the first steps towards multiuser AR, platform independent, and that is indeed a very big deal.

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