Augmented reality apps have been growing in number and there’s a quiet hope among companies that AR becomes the future of mobile application, and generally the next big thing in technology.
The idea of AR is simple – superimpose the virtual onto the real for an interactive experience. We’ve seen AR apps like Pokemon Go that took the world by storm back in 2016. Companies like Apple and Google have also spent a lot of time providing AR tools for developers to bring out AR apps for a number of different purposes. The Measure app for Android is one such app that uses a phone’s camera to measure your real life environment. And Google recently opened the app for a bunch of Android phones.
ARCore is aimed to make AR apps work on Android phones without the need of more expensive and complicated hardware. The Measure app was initially open for Project Tango phones like the Asus Zenfone AR and Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, which came with special sensors like depth sensing and motion sensing to detect the surrounding AR to work well. But Tango depended on some serious hardware, while ARCore is software-based, which means a lot more Android phones make use of it.
The Measure app got an update few days ago that now opens it up to all ARCore supported phones. This includes phones like the Pixel 2, Galaxy S9, LG G7 ThinQ and so on. A list of ARCore-supported phones can be found on Google’s official website. Notably, some new phones have also been added recently that are yet to be updated to the list. Among them is the OnePlus 6, which means the phone also supports the Measure app. We downloaded the app to find how well it works on the OnePlus 6 and whether the app is useful for users right now.
The Measure app is around 11MB in size on the Play Store so it will barely weigh anything on the OnePlus 6. Once downloaded, the app quickly give you a runthrough of what you need to do. After that, opening the app directly opens the camera viewfinder. Since it uses the rear camera to map your environment, you will need to move the OnePlus 6 around until you see dot patterns on the area you wish to measure. It also helps to do this on surfaces with some textures and layers in a good lighting environment so that the camera gets a good sense of the depth. Once the camera detects an area, you can use either the length tool or the height tool to measure an object, depending on how you want to measure it.
The three-dot option on the top right corner brings up the Settings menu where you can choose whether you want the measurement unit in terms of feet and inches (Imperial) or meters and cm (Metric). The app is generally very simple to use, and measuring object becomes easy once the camera maps the area. Once you choose a tool, you can tap on either ends of the measuring line to expand or contract so as to fit the length or height of the subject. While for the most part the app is able to get surfaces right, even in environments with average lighting conditions, do not expect measurements to be spot on.
What you get are measurement that are close to or in the same ballpark as the real thing. In fact, when you start measuring, you’ll see below the result a margin of error as well. So, the app gives you a fair idea of what something measures, but for accurate reading you will need a measuring tape. The app does not do depth sensing as well as what Apple has demonstrated with its own Measure app that is slated to arrive with iOS 12. Apple’s ARKit seems just a little more fine tuned compared to Google’s ARCore and ultimately it’s going to boil down to which AR app is able to marry the virtual with the real in the most believable way.
The Measure app will work well on phones that implement ARCore well. It’s clear from the brief time that I spent with the app that the OnePlus 6 is definitely not fit for the app right now. You’ll probably have a better time with the Measure app on a Galaxy S9 or a Pixel 2, but the with the OnePlus 6, I found the app would hang almost every time. After a little while measuring things, the screen would become non-responsive and I found myself restarting the app every time.
The app has a hard time detecting a surface or an are even if it is patterned and in broad daylight as the app recommends. So, without properly being able to detect depth of an area or object, you’re bound to get inaccuracies while measuring. Placing a measuring tool in such a situation becomes difficult and without accurate starting and end points, the results will not be accurate.
The Measure app right now is a pretty basic and easy-to-use app that won’t give you much. You’re likely to get bored with it after a few tries and it’s definitely not an alternative way when making construction or manufacturing plans. At best, you can get an idea of whether a sofa or some furniture is the right size for your living room. It’s safe to say that ARCore is still very raw on the OnePlus 6 and perhaps some other phones that have recently received the support, but things might become smoother in the future.
News credit : Indiatoday