ASUS announced at CES today that it was releasing two new smartphones, the ZenFone 3 Zoom and the ZenFone AR. Fortunately, both were also on demo for us to try out - and try them out we did.
The first of the two, the ZenFone 3 Zoom, is the more interesting product conceptually if you ask me. It uses an iPhone 7 Plus-style dual-camera array to provide two different effective zoom and frame sizes for your photos, and that should come in handy for shooting portrait photos. It also features dual-pixel autofocus (first introduced on phones with the Galaxy S7) to ensure your shots are nice and crisp in almost any light.
This is definitely an "Oops" moment for Qualcomm. The chipset manufacturer accidentally leaked/revealed the newest Asus device ahead of the CES announcement. While new devices are sometimes worth getting excited about, this one is actually special: the ZenFone AR, as it is named, will be the second phone with Tango built in. Qualcomm noted in its now removed blog post that the ZenFone AR will use the Snapdragon 821 SoC and that the new phone would also be Daydream-ready. Of course, this would be the first device to run both of Google's augmented and virtual reality platforms.
ViewRanger is popular among outdoorsy people for its hiking trails and off-road topographical maps from different sources and known publishers. The fact that you can track and create your own trails, navigate using an Android Wear watch, and keep all your maps offline for use when away from a signal is more than just one big plus. And now there's a new cool feature for ViewRanger users: Skyline.
Skyline is an augmented reality map layer inside the ViewRanger app. It transforms your camera view into a lively map, pointing out the peaks, cliffs, lakes, glaciers, towns, villages, mountain passes, and other known places as you pan around your environment.
Security is a lot tighter in Washington than it used to be. You can't simply wander around the White House in real life, but the new 1600 app from the White House Historical Association lets you scope it out in augmented reality. All you need is a buck. No, it doesn't cost a dollar. You need a real dollar bill as an AR anchor.
It's the most wonderful time of the year... the time when it's almost over. But it's also that turn in the calendar when a couple of billion people look forward to celebrating Christmas, and the youngest portions of that subset start improving their behavior in an avaricious desire for more presents. Google's taking part in its yearly ritual too, indulging whimsical parents and obsessive-compulsive children with its Santa Claus countdown-slash-tracker app.
The Lenovo Phab2 Pro is not the first device to have Google's Tango augmented reality platform, but it's the first one to be aimed at consumers. It's also the first Lenovo-branded smartphone to launch in the US. With the Phab2 Pro, you can see virtual items overlaid in the real world, or explore virtual worlds by moving around in the real one. But let's not forget, this is a phone too. People will presumably buy this product to carry around with them on a daily basis, but it's only available as a $500 unlocked device. So, it's up to Lenovo to make a good pitch to US phone buyers who have more choices than ever before.
Microsoft wants to beat Google at its own game, so to those ends the company drives hard and fast when it comes to search. The newest feature to hit the app is 360 Search, an augmented reality-infused experience that helps take you where you want to go. Other new things include enhanced music and events features as well as a new 'Lottery' section showing the latest winning results for jackpots and such.
Last month Nintendo started a closed beta program for Pokémon GO, the augmented reality catch-em-all game that the company has been working on with Niantic. It looks like we're very close to a public release, at least according to Nintendo's presentation at the massive E3 gaming convention. As reported by Polygon, Nintendo announced that the game will be released on smartphones sometime in July.
Now that Niantic Labs has left Google behind, we've all been wondering what its next big game will be. Ingress has managed more than 12 million downloads, but dare I say the just announced Pokémon GO will have even more. This game (coming in 2016) will have a similar augmented reality premise to Ingress, but instead of capturing portals you're capturing Pokémon.
Hitting the slopes already comes with a fairly high wow factor, but RideOn wants to make things even more impressive with its crowd-funded augmented reality goggles for skiing and snowboarding. The project, which started on January 20th, has managed to reach its $75,000 fixed funding goal on Indiegogo.
RideOn's goggles project a virtual interface on top of the snow, appearing as though things are hovering fifteen feet in front of you. The product can produce hoops for you to swoop through or a map to keep you from getting lost. Just don't use the latter while you're speeding downhill.
Wearers navigate the interface by looking up and focusing on a UI element for a brief moment.