Google announced that it was bringing AR objects to search during I/O last year and since then it’s steadily added new animals to the roster, as well as expanding the list of eligible devices. Now that a lot of people, myself included, are in lockdown, bringing a taste of the outdoors into your living room may just help you keep your sanity. Let’s take a look at some of these AR animals, as well as what you’ll need to enjoy them.
One of the most impressive aspects of these AR animals is their size, appearing in your space exactly as they would in real life. Thankfully you can shrink and enlarge them, as I have in the above photo so that you can fit the bigger animals in your space or see smaller critters up close. Life-like sound effects and animations bring these models to life as well, giving the sense that they truly are in the room.
Right now Google’s got a couple dozen different animals available to check out in AR:
- Angler fish
- Brown bear
- Labrador Retriever
- Emperor penguin
- Giant panda
- Shetland pony
Thanks to AR Core, the same software responsible for AR stickers in the Google camera app, these animals will react to your environment too. Move the animal over to the coffee table, and it’ll stand on it. Combine that with the ability to take pictures, and you can get a photo of you having afternoon tea with a tiger.
If you want a more detailed view at these creatures, you can look at them without AR. Each animal will open like this by default, offering a “view in your space” button to enter AR mode. Here you can rotate each model without having to walk around the room, as well as zoom in close to see every detail Google has packed into each animal. Aside from having no terrain to interact with, they’ll still behave as they do in AR view; the tiger roars, the wolf howls, the dog barks, and the hedgehog burrows. As someone who is obsessed with animals, but doesn’t have any of their own, I love this. This is the closest I’ll ever get to a lot of these furbabies, and being able to see and interact with them is great fun.
Getting started with AR animals couldn’t be easier. First of all, you’ll need a compatible phone or tablet. The list is pretty comprehensive, with all the popular flagships from Samsung, OnePlus, Huawei, Google, and others featured. It’s not just the latest and greatest either, with old-timers and budget phones also supported; you can check if your device is compatible here.
If you do have a compatible phone, all you need to do is make a search for the animal in the Google app. You should see a card offering to introduce you to a life-sized furry little friend, and pressing “view in 3D” will display the chosen animal against a white background, where you can rotate and pan around. Hit “view in your space” to enter AR mode, and follow the instructions for measuring your surroundings.
I’m looking forward to seeing what Google adds next, hopefully starting with more breeds of cats and dogs. As Google does so, I’ll keep this list up-to-date with all the available wildlife.