Enable ARCore

This page describes how to enable ARCore functionality in your Android NDK projects. To do this, you need to:

  1. Add AR Required or AR Optional to the manifest
  2. Add build dependencies to your project
  3. Perform runtime checks to ensure the device is ARCore-supported and that Google Play Services for AR is installed on it
  4. Make sure your app complies with ARCore's User Privacy Requirements

Using Google Play Services for AR to enable ARCore functionality

ARCore SDKs make AR features available on ARCore supported devices that have Google Play Services for AR installed. Users can install and update Google Play Services for AR from the Google Play Store.

Add AR Required or AR Optional to the manifest

An app that supports AR features can be configured in two ways: AR Required and AR Optional.

AR Required

To be usable, an AR Required app requires an ARCore Supported Device that has Google Play Services for AR installed on it.

  • The Google Play Store makes AR Required apps available only on devices that support ARCore.

  • When users install an AR Required app, the Google Play Store automatically installs Google Play Services for AR. However, your app must still perform additional runtime checks in case Google Play Services for AR must be updated or has been manually uninstalled.

For more information, see Publishing AR Apps in the Google Play Store.

To make your app AR Required, modify your app manifest to include these entries:

<!-- "AR Required" apps must declare minSdkVersion >= 24. -->

<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.CAMERA"/>

<!-- Limits app visibility in the Google Play Store to ARCore supported devices
     (https://developers.google.com/ar/discover/supported-devices). -->
<uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.camera.ar" android:required="true"/>

<application …>

  <!-- "AR Required" app, requires "Google Play Services for AR" (ARCore)
       to be installed, as the app does not include any non-AR features. -->
  <meta-data android:name="com.google.ar.core" android:value="required" />


AR Optional

An AR Optional app has optional AR features, which are activated only on ARCore supported devices that have Google Play Services for AR installed.

  • AR Optional apps can be installed and run on devices that don't support ARCore.

  • When users install an AR Optional app, the Google Play Store will not automatically install Google Play Services for AR with the app.

To tag your app as AR Optional, modify your app manifest to include these entries:

<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.CAMERA" />

<!-- "AR Optional" apps must declare minSdkVersion ≥ 14. -->
<uses-sdk android:minSdkVersion="14" />

<application …>

    <!-- "AR Optional" app, contains non-AR features that can be used when
         "Google Play Services for AR" (ARCore) is not available. -->
    <meta-data android:name="com.google.ar.core" android:value="optional" />

Add build dependencies

To add the ARCore library to your Android Studio project, perform these steps:

  1. Make sure your project's build.gradle file includes Google's Maven repository.

    allprojects {
    repositories {
  2. Extract native libraries from ARCore aar.

    The native libraries are included in the ARCore aar file. To use them as part of a C/C++ project, they must be extracted from the archive so they can be referenced directly. To do this, add a custom task to your module's build.gradle file (for example, app/build.gradle).

    The header file for ARCore, arcore_c_api.h is included in the GitHub SDK project:

    Define a variable to a directory in the app/build directory. The native libraries will be extracted to this directory. Also create a gradle configuration to hold the extraction tasks and data.

    The ARCore aar library contains the native shared libraries. These are
    extracted before building to a temporary directory.
    def arcore_libpath = "${buildDir}/arcore-native"
    // Create a configuration to mark which aars to extract .so files from
    configurations { natives }

    Create a task to copy the native libraries from the aar file, and add it to the build dependencies

      // Extracts the shared libraries from aars in the natives configuration.
      // This is done so that NDK builds can access these libraries.
      task extractNativeLibraries() {
         // Extract every time.
         outputs.upToDateWhen { false }
         doFirst {
              configurations.natives.files.each { f ->
                  copy {
                      from zipTree(f)
                      into arcore_libpath
                      include "jni/**/*"
      tasks.whenTaskAdded {
          task-> if (task.name.contains("external") && !task.name.contains("Clean")) {
  3. Configure the native build flags to pass the locations to the external build tools.

    This example is from the samples in the GitHub project.

          externalNativeBuild {
              cmake {
                  cppFlags "-std=c++11", "-Wall"
                  arguments "-DANDROID_STL=c++_static",

  4. Add the dependencies for both the Java and the native libraries.

     dependencies {
          // Add java and native dependencies on the ARCore library
          implementation 'com.google.ar:core:1.16.0'
          natives 'com.google.ar:core:1.16.0'
  5. Reference the native libraries in CMakeLists.txt

    # Import the ARCore library.
    add_library(arcore SHARED IMPORTED)
    set_target_properties(arcore PROPERTIES IMPORTED_LOCATION

Perform runtime checks

Check whether ARCore is installed

All AR apps must call ArCoreApk_requestInstall() before creating an ARCore session. ArCoreApk_requestInstall() checks whether a compatible version of Google Play Services for AR is installed (it might be out of date or have been manually removed by the user) and will prompt the user to install the service if it is not present.

// Tracks if we have already triggered an installation request.
bool install_requested_;

void nativeOnCreate() {
  // other setup

  install_requested_ = false;

void nativeOnResume(JNIEnv env, jobject activity) {
  if (ar_session_ == null) {
    bool user_requested_install = !install_requested_;

    ArInstallStatus install_status;
    ArStatus error = ArCoreApk_requestInstall(
        env, activity, user_requested_install, &install_status);
    if (error != AR_SUCCESS) {
      // Inform user of error.

    switch (install_status) {
        install_requested_ = true;

    // Request camera permissions.

    error = ArSession_create(env, context, &ar_session_);
    if (error != AR_SUCCESS) {
      // Inform user of error.

    // Configure session

  // Normal onResume behavior

If ArCoreApk_requestInstall() returns AR_INSTALL_STATUS_INSTALL_REQUESTED, the current activity pauses and the user is prompted to install or update the service. The activity's onResume() executes again when the user returns to the activity.

Check whether ARCore is supported (AR Optional only)

AR optional apps can use ArCoreApk_checkAvailability() to determine if the current device supports ARCore. On a device that does not support ARCore, apps should disable AR-related functionality and hide associated UI elements.

void maybeEnableArButton(JNIEnv env, jobject context) {
  // Likely called from Activity.onCreate() of an activity with AR buttons.
  ArAvailability availability
  ArCoreApk_checkAvailability(env, context, &availability);
    // Set a timer to call maybeEnableArButton() again after about 200ms.
    // Show/enable AR button.
  } else {
    // Hide/disable AR button.

Then, when the user wants to use an AR feature, your app should ensure that Google Play Services for AR is installed. An easy way to do this is by launching an activity that follows the AR Required pattern described above.

Compliance with User Privacy Requirements

Make sure your app complies with ARCore's User Privacy Requirements.

Next steps

Read the code and comments in the sample app, as well as the C API Reference.