Google saw the potential in augmented reality technology a long way back. The company first announced the Project Tango AR platform in November 2014, and the first consumer Google Tango phone was released as the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro in 2016. Tango relied on dedicated hardware in the form of sensors and cameras to enable a device to see in 3D space. It showed promise, but for multiple reasons, it never really took off.
The Asus ZenFone AR was launched in January as the latest Project Tango smartphone. Now, it will be the last Google Tango certified smartphone ever, as the official Project Tango account on Twitter has confirmed that support for Tango will be turned down on March 1, 2018. The tweet states that Google ARCore will carry forward where Tango had left off.
We’re turning down support for Tango on March 1, 2018. 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. https://t.co/aYiSUkgyie
— Tango (@projecttango) December 15, 2017
To recap, Google announced a preview of ARCore in August as its new AR platform. While Project Tango required dedicated hardware such as multiple sensors, ARCore doesn’t require any dedicated hardware for augmented reality. Instead, it relies on the existing hardware of smartphones.
This does result in ARCore being technically less capable than Tango, as smartphones using ARCore can’t see in 3D. However, the adoption rates of ARCore are guaranteed to be higher than Tango because devices don’t need special hardware to provide augmented reality experiences anymore.
For now, ARCore is still limited to Google Pixel smartphones as well as the Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, and the Galaxy Note 8. However, Google has promised that ARCore 1.0 will have access to 100 million users when it launches in the coming months. Developer Preview 2 of ARCore was released this week with several technical improvements to the SDK. Google has said that it’s working with companies like Samsung, Huawei, LG, Asus, and others to enable ARCore on more smartphones.
Recently, Google also launched AR stickers for Pixel phones, using ARCore. The fledgling platform looks certain to see more developer support, more consumer adoption, and greater awareness than its predecessor did. While Tango won’t be missed by many users, it laid the foundation for ARCore, so the technology will still live on.