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By 2 November 2016 | Categories: news

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Google offered a bit of a mix bag on the smartphone front this year, killing off the Project Ara modular phone project, but then releasing its Pixel phones to much acclaim. Coming to new Android phones soon, at least those that can support it, is Google’s Tango Augmented Reality (AR) technology. And the first consumer phone offering this technology on board, Lenovo’s Phab 2 Pro phablet, has just been released. 

Pokémon Go certainly did everyone a favour to lift AR out of obscurity, so it does seem like the time is right for Google to stir things up a bit. Tango is a technology platform developed by Google that uses a device's cameras, computer vision, GPS and other sensors to help detect the its position and then build an augmented world around this.

Since all the AR action takes place through the screen, the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro offers a 6.4” one with a smart 1440x2560 resolution. Doing the hard work is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor that is optimised for Tango, and 4 GB RAM. It sells for $499 Stateside.

On the AR side, Lenovo is punting the Lowe’s Home Improvements app, where you can view different types of furniture in your home before buying. Two gaming apps mentioned are Phantogeist, where strange creatures inhabit your surroundings, or the cute Raise, with which you look after a virtual pet that seems a bit more compelling than a Tamagochi. There are 18 apps in the Play store available for Tango AR users already.

Having tested the new Lenovo phablet running Tango, The Verge comes away, well, unconvinced. “Until there's more devices out there with Tango tech — and that’s not happening until next year, at least — this all feels very much like an experimental test phase for AR,” says journalist Nick Statt.

There is no news yet whether the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro will be released in South Africa, or at what price. UPDATE: The Lenovo Phab 2 Pro is set to launch in South Africa between March and April 2017. No retail price has been confirmed yet. 

Check Google’s Tango in action in the video below, reimagining the Barcelona Museum with AR.

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