Google ends Tango AR platform

Google has announced that it is officially calling time on its high-end smartphone AR platform Tango, in order to focus on its mass-market focused younger sibling ARCore.

Support for Tango will officially end on 1 March 2018.

In a tweet on 15 December, the Project Tango account said:

“Thank you to our incredible community of developers who made such progress with Tango over the last three years. We look forward to continuing the journey with you on ARCore.”

Tango was introduced in 2014, and was an innovative and pioneering solution, beating out arch rival Apple’s own AR solution. Tango required devices to have advanced camera hardware and fairly expensive functionality, which phone manufacturers proved to be sceptical about incorporating into their products. The Tango platform only ended up on a few devices, such as the Asus ZenFone, over the course of its three-year run.

Google’s head of AR/VR told TechCrunch that Tango’s key aim was to show both the potential and possibility of the core technology and to “drive that capability into as many devices as possible”.

The mobile AR battle

The battle for mobile AR supremacy is now between Google’s ARCore and Apple’s ARKit, with Microsoft’s mixed reality likely to feature as well.

Both ARCore and ARKit rely much more on the smartphone’s camera to sense the user environment, meaning that the Google platform can be applied to a much wider range of devices without the need for extra, costly functionality.

Google has stated that its aim with ARCore is to bring AR to the entire Android ecosystem, likely spurred on by the fact that Apple introduced ARKit with iOS11 in September. The AR space is becoming a lot more crowded as a wide range or brands and companies begin to experiment with the technology. Snap has introduced its Lens Studio aimed at helping advertisers create AR features and Facebook has expanded its AR developer platform.

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