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Project Tango


[Deal Alert] ASUS ZenFone AR now $200 off: 6/64 GB $399, 8/128GB $499

The ZenFone AR was a peculiar device when it launched. Just looking at the specs, it seems rather beefy for the time—few phones with the Snapdragon 821 had 6/8GB RAM options. This was all intended for use with Google's Project Tango augmented reality platform, but that was unceremoniously killed last December. As a result, the ZenFone AR is getting a $200 price cut.

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Google is shutting down Project Tango

Project Tango was Google's first attempt to bring a solid augmented-reality experience to the average user. It relied on an array of cameras and sensors to accurately map 3D areas, which led the (few) devices supporting Tango to be rather large and expensive. Today, Google announced that it is ending support for the platform.

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ASUS ZenFone AR review: A decent phone, but Tango still fails to impress

Google has partnered with another manufacturer to produce a phone with Tango on board, for better or for worse. Stepping up to the plate this time is Asus with the ZenFone AR. The first phone ever to support both Tango and Daydream VR comes in a much, much smaller package than last year's Phab2 Pro from Lenovo, and accomplishes both things in an arguably better manner.

The ZenFone AR comes with a pretty good camera, a nice Super AMOLED screen, Nougat, and the least offensive version of ZenUI to date. Unfortunately, it's the battery life that really drags this phone down.

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ASUS ZenFone AR is now available from Verizon for $648

The first phone to be equipped with Google's Project Tango augmented-reality capabilities was the Lenovo Phab2 Pro. If you read our review, you'll know that it wasn't a good experience at all. But another Tango-powered phone is on the way, and you can order it now from Verizon.

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Google's education app Expeditions is getting a new AR mode

At I/O two years ago, Google introduced Expeditions, an educational tool allowing teachers to take their classes on virtual reality field trips, and it's since been experienced by more than 2 million students around the world. It could be used with an inexpensive viewer such as Google Cardboard to tour a variety of virtual spaces, such as Antarctica or the International Space Station. During this year's I/O keynote, Google's VP of Virtual Reality Clay Bavor announced a new feature for the app — it now includes an AR mode.

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[Update: Now $425] Deal Alert: If you really need a Tango phone, the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro is $50 off ($450) with coupon

You probably don't need a Tango device. While the Google-developed spatial awareness tech is cool, it's also incredibly niche, and there are only a few fleeting practical applications for its use once you get past the admittedly nifty tech demos. But if you can in fact justify several hundred dollars for a one-off design, there's a way you can save a few bucks today. Lenovo is offering $50 off of the Phab 2 Pro, the first (and very likely only) consumer device with Tango camera tech, bringing it down to $449.99.

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Asus announces the ZenFone 3 Zoom and previously leaked ZenFone AR

Asus is announcing two new smartphones at CES, and each of them is notable for different reasons. There's the ZenFone 3 Zoom (left), which as the name implies, has optical zoom. Then there's the ZenFone AR (right), which was leaked by Qualcomm's site a few days ago.

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Lenovo can't even pay people to make the Phab 2 Pro seem exciting

The Phab 2 Pro is the first phone to feature Google's Tango. Tango is, to put it lightly, not really ready for anyone aside from curious tech reviewers and maybe developers looking to get into AR content. The Phab 2 Pro itself also isn't a very good phone, and frankly costs too much to justify a largely gimmicky feature. In short, this product has "commercial flop" written all over it, and I think even AR enthusiasts and Tango phones can understand that. I honestly didn't ever expect it to be commercially marketed: this is a gadget that has some novelty and development value, but essentially zero real consumer appeal at this time.

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Motorola may release a Tango Mod for the Moto Z

The first 'phone' (I use that term loosely) with Project Tango was the Lenovo Phab2 Pro. I recommend reading our review if you haven't already, but essentially Tango is the only appealing aspect of the device. It's bulky, not very fast, and expensive.

Motorola's CEO Aymar de Lencquesaing said at a press event today, "We're likely to have a Tango module to basically enable the Z to have Tango functionality." This followed a discussion about how Motorola can bring niche products into the mainstream, and while the Moto Z isn't a wildly popular device, an optional Moto Mod for Tango makes a lot of sense.

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Living with Tango: Little more than a novelty for consumers

So with the review of Lenovo's Phab2 Pro up, it should be pretty obvious to everyone how we here at AP feel about Tango. The basic premise is that the capabilities of the project are pretty fantastic, but it is barely more than a novelty for regular consumers. I have lived with and used the platform daily for a few weeks, so I plan to convey my experience and understanding of it in this post.

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