It’s official, Google Tango will be shut down. We already knew this would happen when Google mentioned it during its August ARCore unveiling. But now its unwinding has a formal date: the platform will cease to exist on March 1, 2018.
This is a logical move for Google and for AR in general. Tango’s high-end AR capability involved optically sophisticated area mapping and localization, but it required highly tuned and specialized hardware. That limited the installed base, and forced costly implementations from OEMs.
But with the breakthrough of Apple’s ARkit, plane detection became possible with standard smartphone RGB cameras, lowering the hardware barrier for AR app development. This is a limited version of AR (horizontal mapping only), but good enough for AR’s early stages.
More importantly, this brings much more scale to AR — to the tune of half a billion devices according to ARtillry Intelligence calculations. So essentially it trades higher-end capability for scale, which is what AR needs right now. It’s about seeding user demand and developer activity.
So that’s where we are with ARCore. Google will focus AR innovation and resources in that direction, instead of a fractured developer ecosystem with two platforms. If this sounds familiar, it’s similar to the reasons we didn’t see more specialized AR functionality in the iPhoneX.
As for Tango, it lives on. Its IP will embolden ARCore, and its human talent will surely be deployed to give ARCore an edge in what will be the next “platform war.” ARCore will also have an edge in scale, at least in the long run. See our full breakdown of ARCore vs. ARKit here.
Meanwhile, we commend Tango for the pioneering work it did for AR and computer vision; and for pushing the technology forward. It will have an important place in immersive computing history.
Disclosure: ARtillry has no financial stake in the companies mentioned in this post, nor received payment for its production. Disclosure and ethics policy can be seen here.