At Google I/O earlier this month, the company announced Cloud Anchors, a tool that shares with the cloud 3D data captured by a user’s smartphone — and can match that data with another user to create a shared AR experience where each person’s phone is seeing the same things in the same places.
Today, Google is rolling out Cloud Anchor functionality to its AR drawing app called Just a Line, which it released a couple of months ago. Just a Line is hardly a breakout hit for Google, but the simplistic app that lets users paint the 3D world with a white line offers a nice testbed for early AR functionality that’s just as experimental.
What will likely differentiate Google’s offering from whatever Apple ends up shipping is that Cloud Anchor is cross-platform. The Just a Line app is available on both Android and iOS, and with today’s update users on both platforms will be able to collaborate and view items in a shared space.
What’s generally important about multiplayer AR experiences is making the process simple enough for users to sync their spatial map with another user so they see the same digital objects in the same physical locations. What Google has built seems a bit cumbersome, with each user needing to stand next to each other to pair their environments. It also seems that the functionality is limited to two people at the moment.
Just a Line isn’t the most high-stakes place for Google to be dropping this feature, so there is clearly room for the company to keep updating what they’ve got as they see what early usage looks like.