- 1 Apps
- 2 Games
- 3 Wrapup
Welcome to a slightly more niche version of the Android Police app and game roundup. Because I have the Lenovo Phab2 Pro in my hands (note the plural there), we all thought it would be a good idea if we gave a list of the Tango apps and games for this shiny new device. Everything on this list will utilize the power of augmented reality and the sensors in the phone to offer some new experiences.
Before we dive in, I have a challenge for you. See if you can figure out what I am trying to hint at throughout the overviews. It should be pretty obvious by the end.
Android Police coverage: Google's Project Tango gets an official gallery app on the Play Store
So, the first time you boot up the phone, this is what Google/Lenovo will thrust in your face after the sign-in process. While at first you might be annoyed, I say temper that irritation and see what the special hardware in this device can do. Take a few minutes to scan your room, then watch as it transforms into a fantasy-prehistoric world.
Using the data it gleaned from my current space, Tango was able to create a unique world based on what was around me. My ottoman turned into a boulder, my dining room table became a tree. So even though my memory knew where those two things were in reality, I was still able to avoid them thanks to a very accurate augmented reality recreation. This app comes pre-installed on the Phab and beyond just the cool demonstration mentioned above, it gives a nice list of Tango apps to choose from.
Ever need to measure something, but you just don't want to deal with a tape measure? Google has you covered. While perhaps not the first time this has been done, it might be one of the better implementations of something so simple. The concept is rather basic: aim at a Point A, click the '+' button, then move your phone toward a Point B.
But, wait! There's so much more. The Measure app is something beyond just a simple linear tape measure. By adding multiple points, it can calculate volume and area — and add those to a blueprint of the room or object. So while not horribly useful for me beyond just messing around, I can definitely see a use case for this.
Measuring living spaces is a popular passtime these days. Nothing better than coming home after a long day's work and measuring your living room. But in all seriousness, redecorating or renovating is a pain. What if you could see how that new fridge or the new hardwood flooring would look in your home? Cue in Lowe's Vision.
Back when we first heard news that Lowe's was going to be a retail partner for Tango, then the Phab 2 Pro itself, I had to admit that I felt a bit skeptical. Yet, I stand corrected. Similar to how Measure works, Vision lets you measure a space with as much precision as you want. After doing so, you can "install" new appliances, décor, flooring, and more (from the Lowe's catalog, of course). Saving your measurements, product lists, and pictures is easy, too. Lowe's does warn that this app is still in beta, so be on the look out for bugs and whatnot.
What do we have here? Another measuring app? Well, this one takes what Measure and Vision did and does a little bit more. Sure, you can measure stuff and "add" new appliances or décor. But Matterport Scenes allows you to scan your living space and then it creates 3D models for you to take with you anywhere.
When you're out and about, you can access your measurements and models, or you can "3D trim" out the stuff you don't need. Neat, right? Where it gets really cool is when you can bring up your modeled space and re-measure it. The example the developers give is measuring your patio for new steps while you're standing in the home improvement store. I played around making models of my house and it takes a little bit of time to get it right.
Wayfair is getting in on the interior design thing with its Tango app WayfairView (clever). As you might expect, you can place items from the catalog anywhere in your home at full-scale. You can search for what you would like to test out and then move it around until you find the perfect fit.
If you like what you see, you can purchase the furniture and whatnot from Wayfair. You can also get more information on any of the pieces that catch your fancy in the official company app.
Home AR Designer
Since Tango offers pretty good surface recognition, I can understand why all of these interior design apps keep popping up. Each of them offers something unique to them, in some form or another, and we come to one of the more powerful ones. Home AR Designer offers what you might expect, but with some nice bonuses.
Other than just placing and moving furniture and decorations around your house, Home AR Designer really pushes the social element. Not only can you share and rate your friends' designs, but you also try them out in your own home. Also, you can buy different configurations from real designers or sell your own. So while not really that practical, it still helps to set the app apart. Oh, and customized sofas.
iStaging for Tango
Our final AR interior designing application is iStaging for Tango. It offers much what the others do, but this one is not limited to a specific catalog. You know the drill by now: pick out something you want in your house, find a spot where you want it, and try it out.
iStaging offers furniture and décor from other countries so you can see how an exotic flair in your living room would look. The app also includes support for VR, though no word on Daydream just yet.
Moving on from all of the measuring apps available for Tango, we come to Signal Mapper. Using the Phab 2 Pro's array of sensors, this app allows for wireless signal auditing. Now this is more to my liking! The Tango technology allows Signal Mapper to create a real-time floor plan based on your Wi-Fi signals. This map can then be viewed in AR to see the signal data.
It measures both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrums, and collects all information including SSID, BSSID, and encryption status. All of this is gathered simultaneously for any nearby network. The developers say that cell and Bluetooth mapping are coming soon, so be on the lookout for that. At $4.99 (as of this writing), it feels a little steep. Regardless, it is still a cool way to use what Tango has to offer.
Solar Simulator for Tango
I love space. The concept of the infinite unknown with so much to see and explore is thrilling to me. Luckily, there are a slew of apps and games that let me satisfy that curiosity, if only for a while. Yet with Tango and AR, we can step beyond most of those and explore our own solar system to-scale in any given room. What sorcery is this?
Solar Simulator will instruct you to walk to the far end of an enclosed space to place the sun. Then, you will walk to the other side of that room and set Neptune (sorry, Pluto). From there, the app will use the phone's sensors to create a map of our solar system and it's to scale. You then "travel" between planets and get a real sense of how large our system is.
Going to car meets was something I really enjoyed when I was younger and had a car that was actually worth driving. So to say that I love cars is an understatement. Moving on, we come to Car Visualizer and it does... well, just that. Through your phone's motion tracking, you can walk around and check out a full-scale car.
You can also interact with the car via its doors, hood, and trunk. The cars can be customized with optional features, new rims, or different paint jobs. If you are a fan of cars like me, then this is definitely a fantastic app to have installed. I wasted a lot of time out in front of my house using it.
Bike Config AR Store
Outdoor activities are pretty popular here in Colorado, even with the onset of winter. Bicycling around is among those, so I can certainly see the utility of the Bike Config AR Store. Basically, this app lets you test out new configurations and paint jobs on a generic bike frame.
Changing out components or swapping colors is pretty easy. The developers plan to add in many more bike frames, like mountain and city, and types. They also plan to make this into a store someday, so you can buy the new upgrades you tested out.
You know, there are hidden worlds beneath your feet. At least, that's what Tango Vertigo thinks. Or maybe those are portals... anyway. Using the depth- and motion-sensing capabilities of Tango, you can peer through these gaps in reality into... other places.
The developers claim that the larger space you have, the more immersive the experience will be. I did not find this to be the case, frankly. On the other hand, you can view the portals from any angle and reposition or pinch to zoom in on them.
Data as art... I feel like I have heard that somewhere. Anyway, what if you could do that with Tango? Spectra says you can. By applying various filters to your room scans, it creates what you see in the screenshots below. Funky.
The slogan here is to "create your own world". While I don't think that's going to happen, I do think that Spectra offers something pretty interesting that we have not seen on Tango yet. After choosing the filter or objects to insert into your scanned video, you can choose the intensity, frequency, and movement of those. Have I created my own world? I'm still working on it.
Hot Wheels Track Builder
Beyond somewhat practical uses, Tango also has game applications. The first one on this list is the one I had the most fun with. That's right, I still love my Hot Wheels. The name of this game gives the gist of what you do: build tracks for your virtual toy cars. There is a good amount of content and some good challenges included to help keep things fresh — with only some mild success.
You zoom in on game elements by getting in close with your phone. Track pieces can be selected and moved to create whatever configuration suits you. Those elements should feel familiar to anyone who built and played with the Hot Wheels tracks. The developers claim that the physics engine is realistic and it is... for the most part. Regardless of how much stuff they shoved in this game, it is really the same thing over and over again.
Car Racing for Tango
On the topic of building race tracks in your house, I have another game for you. Car Racing for Tango lets you race cars along what you've built in the room and set your own records. Sounds great, right?
The game includes AI opponents and Internet leader boards to keep you fresh and excited. You can also share your custom tracks with the world and use the ones others have made. Like Hot Wheels, this game becomes pretty repetitive – especially since Car Racing for Tango has a lot less content.
Death is inevitable and what lies beyond it, no one knows. Is it possible that spirits linger in this world, anchored by something that won't let them pass on? Well, that's what Ghostly Mansion postulates. Taking advantage of Tango's capabilities, you search a mansion as a disembodied spirit for who you were and how you died.
Using the phone, you point at various clues in the rooms you enter. You need to be close enough for your ghost/skeleton hand to reach. Look on the walls, floors, and in cabinets to find what you need to unravel the mystery of your death. In all, Ghostly Mansion is a cool concept, but ultimately grew boring and repetitive by the third room. Even after pressing onward, the game introduced marginally more interesting elements like puzzles. Still, it was a good time killer even though I had to get up and move around.
Shooting ghosts in the real world should get any Ghostbusters fan excited. You could be walking around in the grocery store and a specter pulls itself out of the fresh produce. So, what do you do? Shoot it, obviously. First-person shooters are perfect for VR/AR if done properly, and PhantoGeist does it pretty well.
Since a Tango device is aware of its location in space, any software can leverage that for whatever it needs. In this case, the game is aware of where and how fast you move and adapts itself accordingly. It also features "Social Multiplayer" where nearby players will see the same creatures through their respective devices. It gets really exciting when you have to run from your enemies should you get overwhelmed. Yet like most everything else on this list, that fun factor grows old after a bit. While enjoyable, I would not rank this high on replay value.
The games that let you destroy the playable environments make me really happy. Whatever that says about my psyche aside, I can tell that I am not alone. But what happens when you bring that desire for virtual destruction into augmented reality? A whole lot of fun, that's what. Slingshot Island has a pretty self-explanatory name: you use a slingshot to destroy castles on an island that floats in your living room.
Like with Angry Birds, finding the best trajectory is very important to success, but so is finding the best angle. Moving around the castles to find their weakpoints is crucial to scoring high. The story and premise is pretty lame, but I cannot say I am surprised. Slingshot Island is a fantastic time-killer and worth the money the developers are asking.
Building off my fascination for destruction that I mentioned earlier, I love knocking over dominoes. I remember building long lines of them and then feeling the satisfaction as they all toppled. Well, now you can recreate that joy in AR with Domino World.
The biggest draw for this game is that setting up domino courses is a fast process, which is a definite advantage. With multiple tiles, props, and toys at your disposal, what you build is limited only by your imagination. The game also lets you start a whole new course quickly and easily, which also lends to the speed factor. Overall, Domino World features a lot more fun and replay value than some of the other games in this list.
Towers for Tango
Want to build a high-class apartment tower in the middle of your kitchen? Now you can. Towers for Tango lets you create a sprawling, market-based structure. The goal is to earn higher ratings and residents so that you can earn more revenue. You know, basic business.
You start off with a plot of land and some money. Build your tower and people will come. Eventually, you will unlock new room types which will draw more upscale residents. Your goal is to reach a five-star rating and you can only accomplish this by acquiring a pre-determined number of rooms and people. Sounds simple and it is. The major downside to Towers for Tango is... well, you can probably guess by this point.
Interested in a whimsical sandbox world? Well, this game is for you. Woorld brings to AR some funny toys and bright characters that you can attach to any surface in your room.
There is really not much else to Woorld. It's fun for a bit while you let your little character explore, find friends, and interact with the objects you placed in your game area.
It feels like there is no complete list of games without something involving zombies. AR Zombies is exactly what you think it is: zombies in augmented reality. This game has you fleeing from the walking dead to survive. Yes, it requires movement.
The game offers a few challenges in your own gaming environment. In addition to zombies, you have to avoid traps or toxic gases. Woo. Can we move on from the zombie thing yet?
Crayola Color Blaster
So zombies apparently want to consume the world's color. Or that's what Crayola wants you to believe. Color Blaster involves you running from zombies (again) and trying to find hidden buckets of paint to bring back the pigment to the world. Oh, and that's your weapon, too.
Overall, Color Blaster's premise is really weak, but it's a decent time killer if it can keep your attention for long enough. Tango's sensing capabilities are not put to the maximum use. Then again, I don't think I am in the target audience for this...
Virtual pets have been a thing for a long time, so this game should come as no surprise to anyone. Raise is where you raise (ugh) and nurture a virtual pet... in augmented reality! All snide jokes aside, the game brings virtual pets to the most realistic they have ever been.
Raise lets your pet follow you around (never mind the battery drain) from room to room, where you feed and clean it. By doing so, it becomes more satisfied with its meager existence and loves you back. Oh, and there are monsters you two have to fight off together.
Dinosaurs Among Us
The last entry to this roundup is not so much a game. Yet I could not just put it in the "Apps" category because I found more fun in it than utility. This is Dinosaurs Among Us and it does exactly what you think it would. Combining Tango with the knowledge of the American Museum of Natural History, you can now see where the dinos have been hiding all this time.
You can place a few species of dinosaur in whatever room you wish and then you can control the size of the beast. This really gives a sense of scale in its own way. What's really fun is seeing how that dinosaur compares to various objects and actual creatures around you. Finally, the app provides some interesting information on the dinos you select, such as hunting techniques and diet. Like I said, it's more fun than utilitarian, but I do find education fun. Take that as you will.
Tango is really new, so more apps will be coming in the future. Some of the current ones are fun, some are very useful, but every single one of them has a staleness factor that is thus far impossible to overcome or ignore.
If you have an app that you love to use on your new Phab 2 Pro, and you did not see it mentioned here, be sure to let us know. Just keep in mind that the app needs to be unique and different from the apps mentioned in this roundup, i.e. no more measurement or interior design apps.