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ARCore 1.6 improves ambient lighting, polishes screen capture and recording

Google’s march toward more realistic augmented reality (AR) worlds continues. The Mountain View company today debuted ARCore 1.6, the latest version of its software development kit for AR app development on Android and ChromeOS. In tow are better plane boundary tracking and improvements to Sceneform — a Java-based mobile-optimized 3D framework with a physically based renderer — as well as expanded device support.

Realistic lighting is one of the spotlight features. As Ashish Shah, product manager at Google’s AR and VR division, explained in a blog post, previous versions of Sceneform defaulted to optimizing ambient light as yellow. Version 1.6 swaps that color for a neutral and white palette and updates Sceneform’s built-in environmental image to provide a more neutral scene.

“This aligns more closely to the way light appears in the real world, making digital objects look more natural,” Shah wrote. “This change will also make objects rendered with Sceneform look as if they’re affected more naturally by color and lighting in the surrounding environment. For example, if you’re viewing an AR object at sunset, it would appear to be illuminated by the red and orange hues, just like real objects in the scene.”

Additionally, Sceneform now has a native screen capture and recording feature. It’s optionally user-facing — developers can allow users to share screenshots and videos more easily, through the surface mirroring API for the ScreenView class.

“The API allows you to display the Sceneform view on a device’s screen at the same time it’s being rendered to another surface,” Shah said. “This is something a number of developers have requested to help with demo recording and prototyping.”

The new enhancements to Sceneform and ARCore are available today, both of which now work with the Samsung Galaxy A3 and the Huawei P20 Lite.

ARCore comes about two months after ARCore 1.5, launched in September, which introduced support for the LG Q6 and LG Q8 and open-sourced Sceneform. According to Google, more than 250 million devices are now compatible with the framework.

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