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New Yorker’s latest cover leaps off the page, really

Ninety-one years old and still learning new tricks. That’s the New Yorker magazine, which this week released an augmented reality cover that springs to life when viewed with a smartphone or tablet.

The animated cover, created by award-winning artist Christoph Niemann, forms part of the publication’s annual “innovators” issue. Viewed via a mobile device with the Uncovr app, the cover’s Manhattan skyline suddenly becomes a busy 3D cityscape, with buildings leaping off the page, locals going about their business, and trains weaving through the city in a most unexpected way. The back cover, too, also features an AR piece by Niemann. Can’t get hold of the mag? Then check it out in the video below.

The AR experiment is a first for the New Yorker, which this week also includes an interview with Niemann about the cover’s concept.

“If you create a world on paper, you create a window. Usually, you just break the surface with your mind, but you always have the feeling of: What if you could step into that world or if something could come out of it?” the artist said about his latest work.

Related: Why augmented reality its here to stay

To experience the New Yorker’s AR cover, you’ll first need to download the free Uncovr app from the Google Play or iOS store. Once opened, point your smartphone or tablet’s camera at the magazine’s cover. Then move your device around to view everything in the constantly changing animated cityscape, and, suggests the New Yorker, “see if you can spot the surprises.”

The New Yorker’s AR effort comes as other long-running publications with their roots in print experiment with similar technology. The New York Times, for example, has been giving away free virtual reality viewers for watching its specially made VR videos, while more recently the Guardian has started to experiment with the same technology.