Today, Google announced it is expecting the Google Play Store to gain dozens of new Tango-enabled applications in the near future and over a few month’s time. The company made the announcement today along with the unveiling of the second Tango-enabled device, the ASUS ZenFone AR, at CES. Currently, there are only thirty two applications available in the Google Play Store that are compatible with the Tango hardware, which is designed to provide the device with contextual awareness of its surroundings using a number of additional sensors and cameras built into the device. Until today, there has only been one commercially available Tango-enabled device, the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, which was released only a few months ago. We had seen Lenovo claiming that it was expecting many more Tango-enabled applications to be made available via the Google Play Store and it’s encouraging to see Google sharing the same opinion.
To date, adding the Tango hardware to the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro device made it more interesting, but with so few applications supporting the technology this has definitely held things back. However, if Google’s prediction is correct, the introduction of many more such applications could galvanize the market. To date, the Tango-aware applications vary from some augmented reality games that use the hardware so that players can interact better, such as Hot Wheels and Dominos, through to applications that help the user understand visualize a product in a known location, such as Wayfarer. Johnny Lee, the Google Tango Director of Engineering, today demonstrated a new application from GAP showing users how different clothing sizes could fit. It’s very much in Google’s interests to encourage developers to write software that uses the Tango hardware and to this end, Lee highlighted how Google is working with developers to encourage and support them. This includes building better APIs for developers, which should result in better quality applications and an overall better user experience.
Google’s Project Tango has certainly come a long way after being born in the Advanced Technology And Projects group, ATAP. There have been a number of developer devices released, such as the Project Tango tablet, powered by the NVIDIA Tegra K1-32 chipset and for its day, having impressive technical specifications but an initial launch price of $1,024. However, now that there are two consumer Tango-equipped devices available, and the promise of more to come, there is far more encouragement and incentive for developers to write or rewrite applications for the hardware.