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

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Other AR apps

Sun Seeker ($10)

Sun Seeker (Android/iOS)

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.

Download now for:

Android iOS

SkyView ($2)

skyview

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.

Download now for:

Android iOS Amazon

SpotCrime (Free)

SpotCrime (Android/iOS)

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.”

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Android iOS

ROAR (free)

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.

Download now for:

Android iOS

Update: We removed Layar and Google SkyMap, and added Holo, Genesis Augmented Reality, Google Goggles, and SkyView.

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