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Jurassic World's DinoTracker AR Puts Raptors in Your Yard With Pokemon Go Tech

It would be more fun if this were a real Pokemon Go alternative.

An AR dinosaur standing in a courtyard next to a grill.
A gallimimus by the BBQ.
Scott Stein/CNET

Pokemon Go with dinosaurs would be an excellent idea. Universal's new free Jurassic World DinoTracker AR is built using Niantic's Lightship tech that's used by Pokemon Go as well, but it's not nearly as deep an experience.

The app, which I tried an early build of, has 10 dinosaurs you can make appear in your environment by scanning using the phone's camera. Like other AR apps, it makes sure the dinosaurs are placed and shadowed realistically for photo ops. It also scans to recognize the size of your space, and what's in the camera's field of view.

The app recognizes grass, sky, ground and water. Depending on what's near and how much open space is sensed, it will make certain dinosaurs appear. It's a bit annoying to have some dinosaurs appear only occasionally, especially since there isn't a deep collecting game or a large library of dinosaurs to view. But it's free, which is at least something. But the loading times on my early build were pretty slow (maybe because I'm in rural England right now with not-great cell service).

Future updates of the app may start putting regional dinosaurs in different world locations based on how the app senses where you are (the app asks for location-sensing permissions, similar to Pokemon Go, which many might find a turn-off). I expected a bit more of a global map/discovery experience, similar to the Jurassic World Dominion movie -- the app feels more like a first step. And, you can already put free AR dinosaurs in your world via Google search very easily.

Niantic's development tools for AR are being used in a growing number of apps, but that doesn't mean these apps connect or recognize each other yet. Niantic's Campfire app, which launched earlier this year and is a social network of sorts for AR games, is only designed for the mobile games Pokemon Go and Ingress right now. Jurassic World DinoTracker doesn't work with it, at least not yet.