Although augmented reality sounds a lot like a wild futuristic concept, the technology has actually been around for quite some time now, and software developers have come up with all kinds of creative uses for it. Agumented reality apps run the gamut from interactive map overlays to massive multiplayer king of the hill games, and we’ve done our best to assemble a list of the best ones out there. Read on to find out our top picks!
Wikitude World Browser is widely regarded as the king of all augmented reality browsers. As you travel around any given area, WWB will provide you with just about any geographically-relevant information you need — Wikipedia articles for landmarks, ATM locations, Youtube videos, Tweets, Foursquare locations, and whole lot more. It’s like an AR Swiss army knife, and the best part is it’s completely free.
WorkSnug is one of those apps that comes in handy often enough to earn a spot on my phone’s homescreen. Essentially, its an AR app that sniffs out free WiFi near you and helps you navigate to suitable workplaces in whatever city you happen to reside in. It’s even got a decibel meter that assesses the general noise level of locations tagged by users, so you can know beforehand if you’ll need headphones.
The AugMeasure app is a handy little tool that can measure short distances with just your iPhone. The app displays distances on screen by using your iPhone’s camera and overlaying the measurements on screen with live pictures from the phones camera. The picture will adjust in real time to measure wherever’s in front of your camera. It comes in handy more than you’d think, especially since most of us don’t walk around with a ruler in our pocket.
One of the first augmented reality apps to go live in the iPhone AppStore, this handy app will pinpoint where the nearest subway or light rail stations are. Acrossair also has specific apps, similar to this one, for the Pairs Metro, Tokyo Subway, Barcelona Metro, San Francisco Transit, Madrid Metro, and New York Subways. Check out their site for more info and other useful AR apps.
Social reviewing service Yelp provided the iPhone with its first augmented reality app, the Yelp Monocle. If you’re in a strange city and you’re looking for good eats, Monocle is your best friend. It’ll use the phone’s GPS and compass to display AR markers for nearby restaurants, bars, and other businesses in real time. Given how Yelp’s high level of success as a user-generated restaurant review service, Monocle is hands down the best app for finding a quick bite to eat.
Layar is another all-purpose AR browser, and although it’s got many of the same functions as Wikitude World Browser, it does them all with a different style and UI. In addition to giving you detailed information on your surroundings, it can also be used to create ‘interactive print’ on pages that would otherwise be static. Check out this video for an example. You don’t have to be a coding whiz to use these features either — the app’s developers have gone out of their way to make using Layar extremely simple.