Niantic made a name for itself in the mobile gaming industry through the enduring success of Pokémon Go. Now the company is hoping to become something else: a platform for other developers to build location-aware AR apps on top of.

This plan has been in the works since at least 2018, but it’s taking a big leap forward this week with the long-awaited release of Niantic’s location mapping software for AR, which it calls the Visual Positioning System, or VPS in a nod to GPS. The technology makes it so that AR experiences can be grounded to a physical location, like the front of a building or a park monument, rather than just floating aimlessly through a phone’s camera view.

Developers can now use VPS as the tentpole feature of Niantic’s…

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