While some degree of peace is appropriate, it’s true that ARKit is about to achieve something special by being available on so many phones and tablets with just a software update. This is the thing that makes owners Android wonder why Google didn’t go that route, choosing instead to invest so much in what we now call Tango.

While checking out the ASUS ZenFone AR, the first Tango phones that people will actually buy, I decided to ask and see what people who work with this technology every day have to say.

Asus Tango

Much of understanding the functional difference between ARKit and Tango is actually trying out the two approaches to AR for yourself. Apple’s approach is simple, easy, and fun. ARKit allows you to select a point in front of the phone, and there is an extended layer on that point. You can bypass this point, and you can walk back and forth from this point, and the combination of motion sensors and accelerometers in iPhone gives you a reasonably accurate translation in the real world. If you haven’t seen the demo video yet, you should.

But if you’re going to call ARKit high-end augmented reality, it’s almost appropriate to call Tango something else. Tango cannot be released to the world with a software update because it requires specialized hardware to be aware of the world around it. When you place a virtual object in front of you with Tango, your phone can detect much more than just a single dot. The software is able to «see» the shapes around it. Tango phones can detect which wall you are on in the room you are in and detect when you left the room with a virtual object in it.

What you can do with Tango opens doors to a universe of things that ARKit just can’t do, and it’s not from me. After showing me how Wayfair plans to use Tango to let you place furniture in your home before you buy it, lead researcher and developer Mike Fiesta explained why Tango is the platform he has worked with the most.