The best augmented-reality apps for Android and iOS

Escape reality with the best augmented reality apps for Android and iOS

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AR games and entertainment

‘Knightfall: AR’

best augmented reality apps knightfall ar app 2

What genre of games is better suited to AR than battle strategy? Knightfall: AR puts players in the shoes of the Knights Templar, as they defen Acre from enemy Mamluk warriors. You place the battlefield down on any flat surface near you, and your viewpoint then acts as a targeting reticule, allowing you to fire arrows and catapults at enemy units as they work their way towards your walls. Killing enemies earns gold that can be spent on defenses and warriors to push the invaders back. Beating levels of the campaign also unlocks animations for the game’s Photo Mode, which lets you plonk down characters from the game for your own amusement.

It’s not perfect though — it’s a bit buggy, and we found the battlefield sometimes scooted away from us. It also started lagging once more units were placed on the battlefield. But regardless of that, this is a fun little game to take up some of your time, and a great indication of the future of AR gaming.

Android iOS

‘Just a Line’

just a line best ar apps

It’s not just independent developers who are having fun in AR — Google is too. Just a Line is one of the standouts of Google’s AR Experiments project, and while the premise is simple, it’s a lot of fun to play with and a great starting point for seeing what AR can potentially do. Boot up the app and it’ll take a moment to calibrate the space in front of you. Once done, hold your finger on the screen to draw and sketch out whatever you like. When you’re done, take a step back to admire your work. Then take a step around it and admire it in full 3D space, since it’s fully rendered in a 3D point in space. It’s really fun tech, and by moving around, you can vary the results, stretching lines out as you move. It’s not particularly thought-provoking, and it doesn’t have much use outside of just drawing in the air — but it’s fun to play with, and you can even shoot short videos to share with your friends.

Android  iOS

‘Ingress’

Google Ingress (Android)

Ingress was Google’s first entry into the AR game market, and it’s easily one of the most creative AR applications we’ve ever seen. The game is an MMO that splits players into two factions — the Enlightened and the Resistance — and has them fight for control of virtual territories in a giant game of king of the hill. Players gain a material called Exotic Matter (XM) by walking around, and can use that XM to take over virtual portals. When three or more portals are taken over by either team, they gain control of the area between the portals. It’s a comprehensive strategy title at its core, heavily rooted in science fiction and bolstered by a continuous open narrative, while offering the most in-depth social experience of any AR app on our list. Ingress was initially developed by Niantic as an Android exclusive, but you can get it on iOS now, too.

Android iOS

‘Genesis Augmented Reality’

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Ever wished that you could slap a piece of paper down on a table and watch as the monster contained within unfolds and fights other monsters? Yeah, we’re essentially describing Yu-Gi-Oh! there, but we’re also describing Genesis Augmented Reality. One of the biggest successes of all time on Kickstarter, Genesis Augmented Reality puts you in the shoes of a “Riftlord” — a mortal imbued with the powers of Genesis to end the evil influence of Rharkon by summoning powerful entities to defeat tainted dark beings.

It’s still in an early stage of development unfortunately, so you won’t be getting a full experience yet — but the tutorial is currently available, and only requires printing off a special AR anchor to spawn your hero. The developers have a pretty expansive game planned, with multiplayer and cooperative modes en route, and although you will have to buy heroes in the full game, this is still a pretty cool little tech demo as it is.

Android iOS

‘Zombies Go’

With the popularity of The Walking Dead TV show and graphic novels, you may sometimes find yourself wondering how you would fare in the zombie apocalypse. Zombies Go doesn’t give you specific answers for that particular thought, but it does let you fight zombies while walking around outside, waiting for the bus, or even while shopping for groceries. You may have noticed the “Zombies Go” name resembles that of Pokémon Go, and you wouldn’t be completely wrong to expect some similarities — mostly, it’s the concept of holding your phone up, seeing a creature, and choosing how to deal with it. If you do get tired of fighting the undead, though, you can turn on the game’s safe mode to keep from being attacked.

iOS

‘Quiver’

Quiver (Android/iOS)

Given smartphones are more tailored for adults than adolescents, the staggering dearth of AR content for children isn’t exactly surprising. Thankfully, Quiver (formerly known as ColAR Mix) works to bring your child’s 2D coloring books to life with animated images that spring directly from the Crayola-lined pages on your kitchen table. Although the app requires printed color pages, users can download one of several free coloring packs on the Quiver website, each of which encompasses everything from fire-breathing dragons and cuddly teddy bears to towering dinosaurs and wild stallions. Once drawn, users merely need to ensure the entirety of the page is viewable within their smartphone camera’s peripheral, thus allowing the image to come to life with accompanying music. Users can watch the animations from any angle once started, pause the content, or even zoom in and out as if viewing a real-life object. Despite being geared toward children, there’s no denying it’s a bit of fun for all ages.

Android iOS

‘Ghost Snap’

If you’re ever at home or in an abandoned building and want to play a horror game on your phone, Ghost Snap has you covered. Inspired by found-footage movies like The Blair Witch Project and games like Outlast, Ghost Snap tasks you with snapping images of ghosts while listening for disturbing sounds and encountering even more disturbing creatures. There’s no way to win this particular game — it’s simply a matter of surviving for as long as you can. It’s best played with headphones on (though we understand if you’d rather not) and, of course, at night. After all, no found-footage movie ever had its biggest scares happen in the middle of the day.

Android

‘Holo’

holo

Remember the AR stickers on the Google Pixel? This app is pretty much where it all began. Holo allows you to take characters from both fictional worlds and the real world, and drag and drop them into your immediate surroundings; a process Holo refers to as “Holo-mixing”. Each of the characters, which range from YouTube celebrities to fictional characters, performs a range of set animations and sounds when placed in the world, and can be shrunk and expanded to match your ideal placement.

The actual execution can be a little glitchy, and the AR functionality isn’t without its bugs — you might find that the characters you’ve placed like to move with you, rather than letting you move around them — but as an app that’s available across both Android and iOS, it’s certainly an impressive endeavor nonetheless.

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Android iOS

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