Why it matters: Google's ARCore SDK intended for augmented and virtual reality applications is about to see a major expansion. In partnership with Xiaomi, Google is bringing its latest software to China.
One reason that Google has formed a partnership with smartphone manufacturers is that Play services are restricted in China. There are a few dozen app stores that Chinese residents can obtain software from.
The first device to receive improved functionality is Xiaomi's Mix 2S. In China, Xiaomi distributes apps through its own store where Google ARCore will be made available.
In addition to Xiaomi, Google has confirmed that additional partners are already getting ready to deliver ARCore apps over seas. Notably, Samsung and Huawei are both signed to be distributors of new apps.
Google's services will remain blocked by the Chinese government for the foreseeable future, but that does not mean Google is unprepared for expansion. ARCore apps do not require any form of cloud computing or internet access, thus allowing them to work in any country so long as apps are able to be downloaded initially.
As it stands now, the majority of recent Android flagship phones support ARCore. The only small caveat is that a minimum of Android 7.0 is required with several devices requiring Android 8.0. Currently, there are over 100 million smartphones in use that are able to run ARCore apps.
Advances in mobile processing capabilities are allowing Google to expand to a market that previously was viewed as unapproachable by many. High competition with plenty of low cost hardware available in China has made it difficult for US businesses to cash in on the largest consumer market available. For Google, software remains a key part of its business and will continue to improve its capabilities.