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AMC

The smartphone wars aren't over. The fight has just shifted from what's inside the phone to what new things the phone can do. One of the key showdowns is over augmented reality — mixing the virtual and real worlds. And once again, it's a battle between Apple and Google, both of which are trying to pitch their mobile operating systems as the best place for AR content.

Why it matters: This will be a billion-dollar battle between two of the largest companies on Earth and the results will define the next generation of smartphones. (Oh, and Facebook is involved, too...)

Google has been trying things out in this area for a few years now with its Project Tango, an effort that used phones and tablets with multiple cameras and sensors to deliver AR capabilities. The problem is that there are few apps and even fewer devices that support Tango, making it more a lens into the future than a viable commercial effort.

Apple's ARKit, by contrast, took things from niche to mainstream overnight. Because it works on all phones running iOS 11, Apple instantly created a giant market of hundreds of millions of devices capable of running AR apps.

That put the pressure back on Google to offer up a more mainstream approach, and on Tuesday Google offered up just that. Much like Apple's ARKit, Google's ARCore relies on just the standard camera and sensors in a smartphone and is therefore capable of running on far more devices. Google's challenge will be to test and certify ARCore with as many leading Android devices as possible.

What's cooking: Axios had a chance to check out several iPhone apps designed to launch with iOS 11 next month. The apps included the kinds of things that typically get highlighted with AR, uses such as gaming, education and visualization apps, such as Ikea Place, which lets people try out sofas and coffee tables in their own living room before making a purchase.

Everyone wins?: Apple's ARKit certainly appears to have the head start, especially in terms of developer attention. But there is a case to be made that having an Android option will further accelerate the pace of apps and that could be good for consumers and app creators alike.

Don't forget Facebook: Facebook isn't a big player in AR yet, but owns Oculus and has talked about the importance of mixing the virtual and real worlds.

The bottom line: For now it's hard to measure the financial impact to Apple and Google since this works with the smartphone people already own. But it does give people a reason to upgrade to the latest and greatest and is a step on the road to augmented reality glasses. Truly consumer-grade specs are probably a year or two off but could be the next big thing in consumer hardware.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
7 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Key clean power provision likely won't survive in Dems' spending bill

A construction worker walks along a dirt road at the Avangrid Renewables La Joya wind farm in Encino, New Mexico, on Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: Cate Dingley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pillar of Democrats' plans to speed deployment of zero-carbon electricity is likely to be cut from major spending and tax legislation they are struggling to move on a party-line vote, per multiple reports and a Capitol Hill aide.

Driving the news: The New York Times, citing anonymous congressional aides and lobbyists, reports that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has told the White House he "strongly opposes" the Clean Electricity Performance Program.

Updated 9 hours ago - World

Fatal stabbing of British MP David Amess declared a terrorist incident

Police outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, England, on Oct. 15. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Authorities have declared the death of David Amess a terrorist incident, hours after the Conservative Party lawmaker in the U.K. was fatally stabbed while meeting with local constituents in a church in eastern England on Friday.

The big picture: The Metropolitan Police has found "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism."

Biden: DOJ should prosecute those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas

President Biden speaks with reporters at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that the Justice Department should prosecute those who defy subpoenas from the Jan. 6 select committee.

Why it matters: The president's remarks come one day after Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon failed to show up for a deposition before the committee.