Google brings Halloween to life using augmented reality

There’s an AR ghost on Google Search. There’s a dancing skeleton, set of creepy jack-o’-lanterns, and costumed cats and dogs, too. Ahead of Halloween weekend in the U.S., Google has launched a set of fun, augmented reality-powered features on Google Search which appear as an option when you search for specific Halloween terms using a mobile device.

For example, if you search for the word “Halloween” and scroll down the search results page, you’ll see a box that prompts you to “Summon up a 3D ghost.” When you tap the “View in 3D” button, you’re able to see the ghost floating around your room.

On the iPhone, you’ll first have to move the phone around the room to get started, as with other AR apps. On Android devices, however, the ghost immediately appears in 3D but there’s a separate button, “View in your space,” that will place the ghost in the environment with you.

Google says the features work in the Google Search app and in the mobile browser.

Once the AR object has been placed in your room, you can move around it to view it from different angles, move closer or further away, or drag it around it around with your finger. The object even leaves a shadow on the floor, to make it seem like it’s really there.

Spooky, Halloween music will also play in the background as the AR objects float or dance in your space. You can then take a photo or a video to share elsewhere, if you choose.

In addition the AR ghost, you can search for a set of three jack-o’lanterns, a dancing skeleton, a hot dog (well, a dog in a hot dog costume), a pirate dog, and a magic cat.

The latter two appear when you google for the keywords “dog” or “cat,” while a search for “hot dog” will pull up the playful dachshund that paws at the ground and wags its tail. Searches for “skeleton” and “jack-o’-lantern” (and some variations) will bring up the others.

You may also see a pop-up at the bottom of the main landing page that suggests you try the new AR feature, but it wasn’t showing up consistently for us on every visit.

Google has experimented with AR features on Google Search for some time, having offered up 3D models of animals, places, spaceships, celestial bodies including the moon, the planets and more, as well as biology terms, anatomical systems, chemistry terms, plus cars, shoes, and even Santa.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to find all the AR objects offered in one place — you usually just stumble upon them when searching.

Besides the AR Halloween search feature, Google also introduced two new doorbell ringtones for its Hello Nest devices, “Black Cat” and “Werewolf.” You can continue to use the sounds introduced last year, like ghost, vampire, monster or witch noises, for example.

Google Assistant, meanwhile, now tells Halloween-themed riddles and can sing a Halloween song, as well, in another nod to the holiday.