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Review: With the Just A Line app, draw side-by-side with your friends

Google's new AR app is extremely simple — and that's the fun of it

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Overall Rating:
7
10

Google's new Just A Line, is an augmented reality (AR) based sketching tool that allows you to draw in real-time to create simple, yet interactive works of art — but are only visible when viewed through the app. Streamlined and incredibly user friendly, the app features only a few toggles and buttons, including a convenient recording button.

Controls are pretty simple — in the bottom left corner of the app is the icon used to toggle between line thickness. There's a center icon that starts recording your live drawing and a bottom right one that allows you to draw along with other people who may be nearby — this is also the main attraction of the app. You can erase an drawing, or undo your latest move, and you can also just draw and then screenshot what's you've created.

Just a Line lets you work on the same drawing with anyone else who has the app as well.GearBrain

Designed for close encounters involving friends, the app's collaborative tool works best with users that are relatively close to you: think feet rather than miles. The app is pretty simple and unfortunately similar to most other AR drawing apps like WallaMe.

Let's draw a line

The app is free and works on any Android phone that runs AR Core, Google's augmented reality software development kit. You can also use the app on many iOS devices. The app can be downloaded from Google Play and also the Apple's App Store. You make your drawing by moving your smartphone around in the air and pressing your finger in the center of the screen. You're not moving your finger — your entire arm becomes a brush in essence.

Pressing the dot in the center of the screen starts the drawing.GearBrain

First I tried drawing a truck and it worked well enough — with the image showing up right on the ground, ready to drive off. Although the drawing tools work well, they're more fun when there's someone in front of the camera interacting with your masterpiece. Or when you're collaborating with the 'Draw with a Partner' icon, which are the image of two people side-by-side.

To turn this on, the app will ask if you give permission to use 'Nearby,' which accesses your location, microphone, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in order to work. Once two users are connected they can draw the same augmented image together — playing tic-tac-toe for instance. People can also share a picture on both their phones.

You're not going to create a masterpiece with Just a Line. The drawing element is crude — making a straight line, even a neat line, while moving your arm up and down takes some practice. You also can't really change the thickness of the line too much, nor can you change colors. This is not meant for art projects — but for some interactive fun.

With Just a Line, draw by moving your phone up, down and around. (Hey, we know we're not Picasso.)GearBrain

Worth a download?

The possibilities are quite endless — draw a thunderstorm and give your model an umbrella to hold or place them deep beneath the sea amongst sharks and other creatures. Once you've taken a picture or recorded your video, it can be saved to your phone and easily shared across all platforms.

Slightly buggy, the app is already in need of a few minor patches, with a bit of a lag in drawing and then seeing what you've sketched appear, but is otherwise easy and accessible. Just A Line is the perfect medium for unique posts across social media if you or your company is into that sort of thing — which you should be.

Pros:

  • Collaborative aspect
  • App is free
  • Simple interface

Cons:

  • Does just one thing, draw a line
  • Only for iOS and Android phones
  • Minor lagging bugs
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