Release The Chickens: Google Brings Snapchat-Like AR Effects to Photo App

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Google brings an AR mode to its Motion Stills app on Android.

Motion Stills is “an app from Google Research that lets you capture short videos and transform them into beautiful cinemagraphs or sweeping cinematic pans using our advanced stabilization and rendering technology.”

Surprisingly, AR mode does not run through Google’s ARCore system. Instead, according to a new blog post published by the Google Research team, “With the new AR mode, a user simply touches the viewfinder to place fun, virtual 3D objects on static or moving horizontal surfaces (e.g. tables, floors, or hands), allowing them to seamlessly interact with a dynamic real-world environment.”

The team also shared a few sample GIFs of the new AR Mode in action. They show off the capabilities of the new features as well as the dev team’s apparent fascination with chickens.

The only thing the team might love more than poultry is gyroscopes and motion tracking. The technical synopsis of the AR mode’s functionality explains that:

AR mode is powered by instant motion tracking, a six degree of freedom tracking system built upon the technology that powers Motion Text in Motion Stills iOS and the privacy blur on YouTube to accurately track static and moving objects. We refined and enhanced this technology to enable fun AR experiences that can run on any Android device with a gyroscope.

Check out the full blog for even more juicy descriptions of advanced 3D rendering techniques. For the rest of us, let’s talk about the positionally tracked elephant in the room.

Snap, Inc. careened its way to an IPO on the backs of dancing hotdogs and twerking Bitmojis. Not long after, Facebook pulled its patented “if you can’t acquire them beat them” to launch its own AR photo enhancing tools. Now Google is slowly dipping its toes into these well traveled waters. But is it too little too late?

If Facebook’s motto is “move fast and break things” than Google’s would be “move slower and…still break a lot of things.”

The titanic company has never seemed to care about being first to market, or second, or even third. They launch what they launch when they think its best. This cautious approach has netted them a few big successes (GMail, GSuite, etc.) because it affords them the opportunity to study what others release and make big, user-pleasing improvements.

Motion Stills is many orders of magnitude away from being as powerful or relevant as Snapchat or Facebook, so the release of AR mode shouldn’t be considered Google’s declaration of war against these two giants for control of the augmented throne.

What should excite you is that Google has taken another big step to expand its catalogue of AR products. And, if history is any indication, the more steps Google takes the closer we get to something big.

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