Tango vs. ARCore: Which is the future of augmented reality on Android?

Mere weeks after announcing Project Tango was out of beta, Google revealed its software-only augmented reality program, ARCore. Google’s announcement followed the release of Apple’s ARKit, which brought AR to millions of Apple devices via a software update, giving developers plenty of options to run their programs on.

Currently, there are only two devices that utilize Tango: The Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and the Asus Zenfone AR. They are both optimized with extra hardware — such as a barometer, motion-tracking camera, and an infrared depth-sensing camera — which improve the function of various AR applications. ARCore, which will run on many Android phones and doesn’t require specific hardware components, has made these two phones redundant.

arcore

Tango has been around in some capacity or another since 2014, but the number of AR apps on its devices are limited. Both the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and the Asus Zenfone AR are severely underrepresented in the smartphone industry. ARCore is smart move for Google considering the reach and implications of its competitor’s platform, which is why Google decided to shut down Tango come March 1, 2018.

But how different are the two technologies? Despite its limitations, Tango’s refined hardware makes it faster and more accurate than ARCore. Instead of tracking planes in a video feed like ARCore and ARKit does, Tango uses its hardware to compile a 3D map of a designated area, one that allows you to leave objects in space and return to them later.

While ARCore and ARKit work well on a table and other flat surfaces, Tango is much more successful in mapping larger or irregular shapes, specifically rooms and buildings.

lenovo phab 2 pro review project tango screenshot 0013

But even though Tango is objectively a better system than ARCore, the new augmented reality program will be able to bring AR to more devices. That’s exciting for consumers and developers who are interested in the budding technology, and gives us opportunities to see more content.

Google will likely take what it learned from Tango and use that knowledge to improve ARCore, which is still in beta. Moving forward, however, we might see elements of Tango’s hardware incorporated into devices running ARCore.

David Cogen — a regular contributor here at Digital Trends — runs TheUnlockr, a popular tech blog that focuses on tech news, tips and tricks, and the latest tech. You can also find him on Twitter discussing the latest tech trends.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Gaming

Nintendo Switch controllers will soon be compatible with Google Chrome

Nintendo Switch controllers will soon be supported by Google Chrome, according to a new commit spotted by 9to5Google. The code is likely related to Google's Project Stream game streaming service.
Mobile

Here are our favorite features in Google’s first Android Q beta

Google has released the first beta for Android Q, and with it a number of great new features -- including faster sharing, better control over permissions like location, and more. Here are our top five favorite new features in Android Q.
Mobile

How to download and install Google’s next-gen Android Q beta?

The first beta for Google's next-generation mobile operating system, Android Q, is finally here -- and you can download and install it yourself. Here's how to download and install the Android Q beta.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Apple rumors, Google gaming, and TerraCycle

On episode 83 of Digital Trends Live, hosts Greg Nibler and Ryan Waniata explored the biggest news stories from the world of tech, including Google's new gaming patent, Apple's upcoming event, and more.
Mobile

Walmart to launch it’s own low-priced tablet, powered by Android 9.0 Pie

Walmart will soon launch its own low-cost, kid-friendly tablet, which will be powered by Android 9.0 Pie. The price and release date for the device are still unknown, but it will reportedly feature a MediaTek processor with 2 GB of RAM.
Product Review

Sony's Xperia 10 falls frustratingly short of budget brilliance

Better know for premium products, Sony does also have a budget smartphone range, but can the Sony Xperia 10 compete with great cheap phones from Nokia and Motorola? We put it through its paces to find out how it measures up.
Mobile

Safeguard your Sony Xperia 10 smartphone with one of these cases

If you're looking for some protection to keep your Sony smartphone safe, or you want a different style, we've got you covered here with a list of the best Sony Xperia 10 cases. There are clear cases, rugged cases, wallet cases, and more.
Mobile

Sony's Xperia 10 smartphone boasts a 6-inch screen and is now available

Sony took the wraps off of three new phones at Mobile World Congress 2019, including the new Xperia 1, which is the company's new flagship phone and the first with a 4K OLED display with a 21:9 aspect ratio.
Mobile

FCC to help first responders pinpoint 911 callers in multistory buildings

When someone calls 911 from their cell phone, wireless carriers provide operators with an approximate location. Now the FCC wants the carriers to provide vertical location data to pinpoint 911 callers inside multi-story buildings.
Mobile

Latest Samsung Galaxy smartphone will pop up on April 10

Samsung will show at least one new Galaxy phone off on April 10, it has confirmed in a teaser tweet. The Galaxy A90 may make its first appearance, and it's rumored to have a pop-up camera and a notch-less screen.
Mobile

Leaked ZTE concept phones are crazy, possibly fake, and totally worth seeing

Renders of what may be ZTE concept phones may show how the manufacturer could avoid using the notch on future devices. They're crazy -- and maybe not even real -- but they're definitely worth looking at.
Mobile

The iPad Mini, Apple's tiny titan, makes a huge return with powerful new specs

Apple has finally revealed the iPad Mini. With all-new and upgraded specs, support for the Apple Pencil, and a fantastically inclusive price, here's everything you need to know about the iPad Mini.
Mobile

The Apple iPad Air is the power-packed tablet for everyone

The iPad Air is the less serious cousin to Apple's iPad Pro range, and it's the perfect addition to your coffee table. But it's no less powerful. Here's everything you need to know about the iPad Air.