The 5 Best Augmented Reality iPhone Apps
Augmented reality may sound like something out of The Matrix, but it’s a much simpler—and quite clever—idea. By overlaying information atop a live image of the world around you—generated by the camera in your phone—augmented reality apps can create a virtual world on top of the real one. Here are five cool ways you can put augmented reality to work today. You’ll find all five on iTunes.
What it does: Looking for instant fun facts? Point your iPhone camera at Lady Liberty and Wikitude will overlay formatted information drawn from Wikipedia.
Pros: This free app turns navigating an unfamiliar area into a game, while still teaching you a bit about your surroundings.
Cons: Includes far fewer points of interest (POIs) than you’d think. It performs better in big cities with many POIs. Additional services (such as YouTube videos of passing traffic and planes taking off) are even less useful than you’d expect. Sluggish to update and crash-prone.
What it does: Look skyward, young Copernicus! Star Walk is an exhaustive, 360-degree, 3-D map of the heavens. Just point your phone into space and ID any constellation. Dig deeper to learn all kinds of star facts. Even includes data about passing satellites.
Pros: Bonus info includes sun, moon, and various planetary rising and setting times. Picture of the day gives you Hubble’s greatest hits.
Cons: Stars are free, but the app is not (US$2.99).
What it does: If you’ve ever searched the internet for a restaurant, you probably already know about Yelp. The Monocle mini app that’s part of Yelp’s free iPhone offering adds an on-the-ground spin to things, overlaying your view with reviews of every business on a given block.
Pros: Makes picking a place for dinner lots of fun.
Cons: Many restaurants don’t show up even if you’re standing on the doorstep. Overlays don’t often line up with actual venues.
What it does: Nirvana for the real estate obsessed. Aim your handset at a listed house, and the free ZipRealty app brings up the asking price and other relevant facts, including bed/bath configuration, square footage, and value estimates.
Pros: Indispensable for on-the-go house hunting. Just target a neighborhood and instantly see all the homes on the market—plus recent sales—without having to head home to look it up on a computer.
Cons: Augmented reality view is often incomplete and misses homes that appear on the traditional map view.
Golfscape What it does:
Turns your iPhone into a powerful golf course range finder. Aim it at the hole, and the app measures the yardage around the green and notes hazards along the way. More than 35,000 golf courses are included in the database.
Pros: Incredibly accurate, fast, and easy to use. Just punch in the course and hole, and the app does the rest. No extra fees per course downloaded.
Cons: Expensive (US$19.99), but a drop in the bucket for most golfers.