Google experimenting with Mixed Reality: New WebXR apps for Chrome play with personal photos and other features

Google WebXR Chrome Apps
Google experiments with Mixed Reality via Chrome apps. Pic credit: Dlohner/Pixabay

Google is gradually offering a few apps that rely on ‘WebXR’. These Chrome apps allow users to play with their own photo collection inside Mixed Reality.

By creatively mixing Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), the WebXR platform Chrome offers several possibilities. From a real-life scannable social distancing app to a virtual gallery of users’ memories, these new “XR experiences” will be available as Google Chrome apps.

Experiments with Google site hosts WebXR Experiments that bring AR and VR experiences online:

Google is always experimenting, and it is one of the few companies that are not afraid to tread uncharted territory. The latest Chrome apps clearly indicate the search giant wants to lead the Mixed Reality ecosystem.

The ‘Experiments with Google’ site showcases multiple projects that the company builds using its core platforms and new technologies. The latest collection from Google highlights WebXR Experiments that combined and bring AR and VR experiences online.

There are three WebXR apps. There’s a fourth one in development, which Google could offer soon. The first batch ranges from helpful, productivity-focused utilities to fun interactions. They include:

  • Sodar helps to visualize social distancing. By activating a personal augmented reality radar from your browser, you can see what 6 feet (or 2 meters) looks like in any environment.
  • With Measure Up, you can calculate the length, area, and volume of the things around you without using a tape measure.
  • Floom is a fun new way to explore the planet, built with WebXR and Google Maps. Open your browser to tunnel through the earth and see what’s on the other side.

A fourth WebXR experiment called ‘Picturescape’ “turns a user’s Google Photos library into an immersive gallery so they can explore their memories in Augmented Reality.” Google has indicated the app is under development and should arrive soon.

How to play with WebXR Chrome apps?

As mentioned above, all the apps that rely on the WebXR platform, are available on the ‘Experiments with Google’ site. These apps will work on any modern-day Android smartphone with an updated Google Chrome browser.

The Android smartphone must support the ARCore platform, which means a relatively modern-day device with Android 10 or above and a Qualcomm or MediaTek SoC should suffice. Interestingly, Google has opened up access to developers.

This means the WebXR platform is open for experimentation. The search giant is welcoming submissions. Qualifying apps could make it to the WebXR collection.

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