Lenovo Phab 2 Pro in Tango with Google

Lenovo's Phab Pro 2 is the world's first Tango-enabled smartphone and it's got a lot of fun, useful and educational apps already

Lenovo Phab 2 Pro

Just ahead of CES 2017, Lenovo has released the Phab 2 Pro. The world’s first Tango-enabled smartphone is now available on shelves and online. “Studios around the world are using the Phab 2 Pro as a working model to develop innovative Tango apps,” said a statement from the company. The 6.4-inch Phab 2 Pro will be delivering on the original Tango experience on a number of new apps, which have introduced unique AR and VR experiences to the phones of new Tango users.

AR: beyond the fun stuff

These include AR/VR games such as Hot Wheels Track Builder, Fury of the Gods or Crayola Color Blaster. But it’s not all about fun and games. The Phab 2 Pro has a preloaded Measure app uses Tango’s depth perception capabilities to quickly measure interiors and real world objects, displaying the figures in augmented reality. A diverse range of retail, education and camera apps now promise to reimagine the way you use your smartphones.

The retail experience is changing with Tango. Lowe’s and Wayfair have both showcased Tango apps that let users place actual-size furniture or home furnishings in their interiors before reaching a purchase decision, saving them on trips to the store. Users can view, walk around and examine these home additions through the screen of their Phab 2 Pro as if they were actually there. Another interior design app, iStaging, pairs the spatial perception features of Tango with its own Immersive Reality technology to let users design their interiors right from the Phab 2 Pro. Users will have the opportunity to walk around the furnishings, floor tiles and even wallpaper they’ve chosen in their own homes to see if they fit. They’ll also be able to take pictures of the design to share with their friends or family. And if they can want to make a purchase, they can order the item straight from the app.

iStaging offer products from a range of brands, including HomePlaneur, PIXERS, Arredoclassic and HOLA. iStaging’s Floor Planner app is also among a number of apps that allows designers and real estate professionals to measure and map their interiors. Matterport and its Tango software are allowing users to capture an accurate 3D model of an indoor environment, offering virtual house tours for people interested in a property. Meanwhile, Sensopia’s MagicPlan lets you measure your rooms and draw floor plans just by taking pictures.

Augmented teaching

Tango also looks set to impact the education space with apps such as Dinosaurs Among Us that allow viewers to walk among life-sized velociraptors. Students can learn by exploring these virtual dinosaurs, where information referencing the latest research from paleontologists at the American Museum of Natural History is overlaid over various features of the dinosaur. Another educational app for the classroom or home is Angstrom Tech’s Solar Simulator at Scale, which lets teachers, parents and children project a scale model of the solar system into their living room, hallway or gym. The user starts by “placing” the sun at one end of an enclosed space in the real world, such as the living room. Then the user moves to the far end of the room to place Neptune. Once that’s done, the app automatically scales the solar system to fit into your living room. Users and their friends can then walk among the planets in augmented reality, and find out just how far Saturn is from Earth.

You can also film yourself and friends with a hologram of your favourite celebrity or character. The aptly named Holo mixed-reality app will soon be available from a new studio called 8i. Holo allows users to add AR holograms to real-world environments such as a living room or shopping mall. These holograms come in “holopacks” comprising photorealistic 3D holograms of animals, celebrities, fictional characters, athletes and musical artists. Once you’ve added the hologram, it can be moved around, resized or rotated, with other holograms and virtual assets added to the tableau. And when everything’s ready, get yourself and/or your friends into the picture to put on final touches. Then take a photo or record a video you can share with friends on Twitter or YouTube.

A lot has happened to the Tango ecosystem in the past few months since the Phab 2 Pro was first announced. It’s certainly going to be an interesting year ahead for the platform.