Even more Android users can now measure things with their phones.

Google Measure — or what is essentially a virtual measuring tape in an app — is now compatible with any device that runs ARCore, Google’s platform for building augmented reality tools. 

The Measure app was previously only compatible with devices that supported Project Tango, Google’s now-defunct augmented reality computing platform. But an update today makes the Measure app compatible with various Samsung Galaxy, Sony, and Pixel devices.

Google has recently unveiled a lot of consumer AR apps, but they don’t really function that well in practice. Google Lens, for example, was supposed to identify objects when you pointed your smartphone’s camera at them, but it often performs poorly in real world settings. The Google Translations app, it’s worth mentioning, has an AR feature that is actually pretty accurate, but the feature was enabled through Google’s acquisition of WordLens and was not built by Google from the ground up.

Although Google Measure boasts greater compatibility after today’s update, the augmented reality app is still clunky and impractical, especially compared to its iOS counterpart — also called Measure — which is built into iOS 12.

Unlike Apple’s competing app, Google Measure cannot detect objects very well and has poor depth perception. The app says it’s best used on a well-lit, patterned platform, but it barely discerns patterns regardless of the lighting and is unusable on patternless surfaces, like a plastic table.

Dots will appear to indicate where you can start the measurement. You then drag and drop either the length or height options at the bottom to the dotted area.

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Dots will appear to indicate where you can start the measurement. You then drag and drop either the length or height options at the bottom to the dotted area.

Once you drag the desired tool past  the dots, however, your measurement will not register even if it is on the same plane and pattern.

Once you drag the desired tool past  the dots, however, your measurement will not register even if it is on the same plane and pattern.

The measurements are also easy to botch. For example, if the phone doesn’t scan the surface you’re measuring properly, or if you don’t place the end point in exactly the right spot — you wind up with wildly wrong measurements. Of course, in most situations where you’re recording the distance or length of something — it’s best to be as exact as possible. It’s hard to imagine trusting this app with any major construction projects, but it should be enough to get the job done for most basic measuring tasks.

You can try out this app for yourself if you own any one of these devices. You may find that it’s frustrating or a waste of time, but at least it’s free.

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