Google abandoned its Tango augmented reality platform last year in favor of the simpler ARCore framework in Android. Now, one of the most useful Tango apps has come to ARCore phones — the aptly named Measure app. As long as you’ve got an ARCore device, you can find out how big something is just by pointing your phone at it.
Measure debuted as a pre-loaded app on Tango devices, of which Google only released a handful. Tango used dedicated motion-tracking cameras and 3D depth sensors to build a map of everything the phone could see. That’s how Tango could efficiently place virtual objects in your camera feed that stayed put as you moved around them. You could even point the phone in a different direction and come back to find your virtual objects right where you left them.
Tango’s hardware requirements eventually doomed the platform, but Google was ready with ARCore as an alternative. This approach is closer to what Apple is doing with ARKit. Many Android phones support ARCore without any special sensors on the outside of the device. The most prominent application so far is the inclusion of AR stickers in camera apps — you can cover your desk with tiny animated Stormtroopers and AT-ATs. There are also games, interior design apps, and more.
The Measure app works on any device that supports ARCore, which is most recently launched phones. All of Google’s Pixels are supported, as well as the Galaxy S9, OnePlus 6, LG G7, and even cheaper phones like the Moto G6. You also need the ARCore framework app installed. The app opens a camera viewfinder and searches for flat spaces. You can tap and drag width and height measurement tools into the frame to place them on the object you want to measure. Then, just drag the ends to see the estimated numbers.
Google says the Measure app is accurate to within half an inch. Having tested it a few times, I’d say that’s a safe bet. However, ARCore isn’t as good at remembering where objects were when you move the camera to an entirely different part of a room and then come back to your measurement tool.
Google still has a way to go before ARCore feels as polished and accurate as Tango, which it worked on for about five years. However, ARCore is much more accessible. Your phone might already have what it takes to measure things with the power of augmented reality. The Measure app is free in the Play Store.