Another day, another dead Google product. This time, the augmented reality app “Measure” is being put out on pastures.
As first discovered by Android Police, the Android app is no longer available via a Play Store search, and a direct link to the list displays a new message in the description: “This app is no longer supported or updated. Users previously installed can app continue to use it on compatible devices. “
Goals were pretty nice. The app used a smartphone to measure real-life objects through the magic of augmented reality. AR tracks real-life objects to accurately place virtual objects in a camera feed, and if tracking is good enough, an app can make that data a pretty good estimate of distance. Measurements were never good enough for applications such as detailed carpentry – we found that short measurements were accurate within half an inch and that longer measurements could be off by several inches – but the best measuring tape is the one you have with you. Plus, the app worked well if you wanted to measure something large, like a telephone pole, which would be quite difficult with a tape measure.
The Measure app started life on another dead Google product: Project Tango, which loaded a smartphone with special sensors that enabled early portable augmented reality on development devices in 2014 and a commercial device, Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, in 2016. In 2018, measured on regular Android phones without all the extra sensors; Google’s ARCore augmented reality toolkit did all the tracking through the camera hardware. Goals was such a great idea that Apple released a similar app for iPhones in 2018.
Measure’s death is not a huge deal, as long as the underlying framework that strengthens it – ARCore – still exists. ARCore handles the tracking, detection and measurement of augmented reality, and the App app simply presented all this information in a friendly user interface. There are many alternative ARCore measurement apps in the Play Store, and since they all use the same set of tools, their tracking and accuracy should be pretty similar – you mostly just choose the user interface you like. Some apps are in the style of straight rulers, while others are focused on making floor plans.
Even before Google pulled the app, action was not a good option compared to third-party alternatives. The app is down to 2.9 stars in the Play Store, where many users cite bugs and freezes. It does not sound like the app has been updated. The two third-party apps linked above hover around 4.5 stars.
Google still uses ARCore in products like Google Maps, Google Search and Google Lens. Plus, at Google I / O 2021, ARCore got a few new updates and APIs, so it sounds like the underlying framework is here to stay.