Other AR apps
Google Goggles is dead — long live Google Lens. Google Lens is the replacement for the long-neglected Google Goggles app, and thankfully for old users of that app, it still does most of the things Goggles was known for, and a lot more besides. Point Google Lens at an object and it’ll attempt to identify it. If it knows what it is, it can suggest places to buy it, or alternative products — or simply pull up a Google search for that item. It can identify plants, store phone numbers and dates on posters, or give you information about nearby landmarks.
Accessing Google Lens is pretty easy. You can either download the Android app below, access it from your Google Assistant, or access it from Google Photos. Sadly, iOS users don’t have access to the Lens app, but they can still access Lens through Google Photos.
Here’s one of the simplest ideas for augmented reality — measurements. Using AR’s ability to gauge where 3D objects begin and end, it’s possible to measure that distance and display it easily. It’s not just about simple straight measurements, though — AR Ruler will also measure angles, volume, and area. It even has a function to create a room plan from your measurements. As you might expect, it’s not perfect, but it’s a decent enough tool to get rough measurements when you need them. Just don’t rely on it for anything that needs to be accurate — yet. Unfortunately, there’s no iOS version of this app yet, but there are similar apps with the same name that will probably work just as well.
Augmented Car Finder
We’ve all done it before — you finish up your grocery shopping and head out into the parking lot to make your way home, but unfortunately have no idea where you parked. Fortunately, Augmented Car Finder is an app specifically designed to help guide you to your hiding vehicle. Once the car’s location is set, the app creates a visible marker showing the car, the distance you are from it, and the direction you should walk to find it. We’ve found that it’s most useful for places like stadiums, convention centers, outdoor concert venues, and other crowded areas or those lined with massive parking lots. Users can also utilize the app to find their seats in large theaters and concert halls.
The freemium version of the software should suffice for most users, but the premium version does remove the ads and include additional tools for marking your favorite parking spot or specifying the arrow color. Augmented Car Finder may be an iOS exclusive, but Android users can always purchase the similarly-equipped Car Finder AR for $2.75.
Visualizing furniture in its potential environment is one thing, but being able to visualize nearly any 3D model in augmented reality is something completely different. Although somewhat complex, Augment is an app specially designed to boost sales, bring print to life, and visually see the possibilities at hand. Once users sign up with a free Augment Manager account, the app allows users to upload their own 3D images and trackers from applications such as Cinema 4D, Sketchup, Maya, and the like, and place the 3D models in a virtual environment using the camera on their iOS device. A steep learning curve accompanies some of the more advanced features but said features also make the software more capable. It handle’s print content in a similar fashion to Layer, offering additional multimedia features with a simple camera scan, but the sheer ability to upload your own 3D content helps it edge out the competition when it comes to deciding where to put that recently-purchased display kiosk or building model.
Sun Seeker ($6/$10)
As the name might suggest, Sun Seeker is an app obsessively designed with one thing in mind: the enormous star position in the center of our solar system. The app provides both a flat view compass and a 3D, AR view, each detailing the sun’s solar path, maximum elevation, its hourly intervals, and its rise and set times, among other noteworthy data. Furthermore, the app presents the sun’s winter and summer solstice paths, and allows users to quickly view the sun’s current position in the sky, complete with marked hour points. Though users can choose from nearly any location on earth, the app also taps into your mobile device’s GPS and magnetometer, providing useful information for gardeners, photographer, architects, real estate buyers, and anyone else looking to discover optimal lighting conditions and relative solar angles for a given location. Plus, users can even view the solar path for a chosen date. Needless to say, the Aztecs would be a wee bit envious.
Staring up at the cosmos is something of a universal human experience. No matter where or who you are, we can all enjoy gazing up at the night sky (well, almost all of us). Now, no matter how experienced a stargazer you are, this app can grant you the combined powers of notable astronomers from throughout history.
No, there’s nothing sinister about it. By using your phone’s camera and a multitude of sensors, SkyView projects a grid of the known constellations, stars, and other stellar objects on your phone’s screen. Simply point it at the sky and you will be an expert in no time. A search function allows you to find crowd favorites, and a time-travel function conjures skymaps from the past, or even projects into the future. Follow the International Space Station as it travels across the sky, or simply watch Jupiter dawn, thanks to the sky trails. It’s available on a multitude of devices — and there’s even a companion app available for the Apple Watch.
The best part about these sorts of apps is that there are always alternatives. If you’re looking for something a little lower tech, then Google’s SkyMap is perfect. Whereas if you’re not convinced enough to put down the $2 immediately, then there is a free version of this app for Android devices, so you can try before you buy.
Sometimes obliviousness is a terrific thing, but that’s rarely the case when it comes to safety. With SpotCrime+, users can gather a wealth of real-time crime information and alerts for nearly any location in the United States, United Kingdom, and selected parts of Canada. SpotCrime+ pinpoints your location via your smartphone’s GPS, pulling crime data from police departments, sheriff agencies, news media, and other sources. Crimes range from robberies and shootings to arrests and assaults, and the app pinpoints each occurrence with its respective icon on a map. Moreover, users can set up automated alerts and search for crimes surrounding a specific address or view them as a list accompanied with links to additional information. The app may not prevent crimes, but it will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the more dangerous avenues and times to be out and about in your neighborhood or park block. As the official SpotCrime+ description says, “don’t let anyone take your mojo.”
Roar is an app that consumers, businesses, and retailers can all benefit from, but we’re going to speak to the people that are going to use it in their personal lives. For them, Roar is an AR shopping adviser that lets you take pictures of thousands of foods and drinks, and almost instantly learn their prices and ingredients, see reviews from other people, and maybe even discover relevant coupons and promotions. Products found in Roar’s database can be compared by price or retailer, and items can be bought from within the app itself. Even more impressive is the ability to scan a movie poster in order to quickly buy tickets to an upcoming showing, potentially saving you the trouble of having to navigate a full website. Roar is an ever-growing app, and while it was recently updated in February (iOS) and March (Android), even more features to make it easier and more fun to use — including new sounds and music, 3D objects, and animation — are coming soon.