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Google's AR animals entertain Android users

Google is rolling out a tool that lets Android users view moving animals which make sounds in augmented reality through their device's camera.

It currently only works with some animals but could be expanded to include objects and brands in future.

It was unveiled last month at the firm's annual event for developers who create apps for Android devices.

Devices which currently support it include specific models by Huawei, Samsung, LG and One Plus.

Apple also supports a wide range of Augmented Reality applications but this feature is restricted to Android-powered handsets.

How to do it

  • Look up an animal in the Google search engine (this requires a bit of trial and error as they aren't all featured - definite successes include penguin, cheetah, dog, cat, snake, bear, eagle and raccoon)
  • If the animal is supported, a box which says "meet a life-sized cheetah" (for example) will be visible
  • Inside that box is a button which says "view in 3D"
  • Press that and then select "view in your own space"
  • It will then activate the camera and ask you to point it at the floor

The concept of Augmented Reality (AR) - the combination of images and the real world - pre-dates smartphones and tablets but the growth of these devices has led to a huge increase in its popularity, notably in mobile games such as Pokemon Go but also in other areas including education and interior design.

Furniture store Ikea's app allows customers to place its furniture in their homes using AR to see what furnishings would look like before they are bought.

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"For many, Pokemon Go was our first encounter with AR, but this shows the possibilities of AR to a whole new group of people - those who don't play smartphone games," commented Kate Bevan, editor of Which? Computing magazine.

"While I expect to see this technology taken up by brands for advertising further down the track, AR will also be used for practical things like navigation: Google is already rolling out a trial of AR maps for owners of its Pixel phones, and I expect to see that more widely available next year."

Cyber-security expert Lisa Forte, from Red Goat, warned that developers and users of AR applications still need to be vigilant about security measures.

"AR can have the same sorts of vulnerabilities that websites or apps have," she said.

"It comes down to being secure by design and deployment."

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