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Best Augmented Reality Apps

Best Augmented Reality Apps

With iPhones and Android based phones getting extremely popular, the need for some innovative and useful apps is now stronger than ever. Augmented Reality is a technology that is being incorporated into some apps to make them far more powerful than ever imagined.
Rahul Thadani
Augmented Reality (AR) is the new buzzword in the smartphone applications market right now, and many people expect this technology to take over this domain in the coming years. As we are well aware, smartphones have evolved by leaps and bounds ever since the Apple iPhone and Android OS hit the market in 2007 and 2008 respectively, and the most attractive aspect of these devices is the number and the nature of web based apps that they offer users.
'Apps' are nothing but portals into the Internet, and users can use apps to get information online without actually opening the web browser on their phone. These apps resemble the icons that we see on our computer screen, and there are thousands of such apps to choose from. The Apple App Store officially has more than 350,000 apps while the Android Market has more than 250,000 apps to offer. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a world without these web based apps today.
What are Augmented Reality Apps
Every smartphone has a camera and every smartphone has web access today, so developers have decided to combine both these aspects. Augmented Reality technology allows you to take pictures or record videos in live time, and then receive information about the subject in live time as well. So you are basically walking around with your phone's camera switched on, while you are getting details and information about everything that the camera can see. This is a phenomenal new technology and it is increasingly finding users from all walks of life.
Top 7 AR Apps
The Augmented Reality apps that are most popularly used today are found in the Apple App Store as well as the Android Market, so they can be used on iOS and Android OS as well. These two operating systems have firmly established themselves as the leaders in this market, hence all the best apps are also developed for them and made available on them instantly. Here are some of the best AR apps that you can use on either of these operating systems.
Sr. No. AR App Description
1 Google Sky Map This app is a personal favorite of mine, but it is only available on Android. It is a free app, and it is great for people who like to look at the night sky and recognize the constellations that they see. All you need to do is point your phone at the sky, and the app will tell you exactly which stars and constellations you are looking at.
2 Wikitude This app can be downloaded for free for iOS and for Android, and it is what they call a 'world browser'. You simply have to hold up your phone and scan your surroundings, and you will see Wikipedia entries for anything that you see on the screen. Big cities with lots of landmarks will throw up more information on this app, but it is an excellent choice for someone who is visiting a city for the first time.
3 Layar This is another great AR app that is available on Android only, and it even comes pre-installed on most Android phones. This app is very similar to Wikitude, and it allows you to attach layers to the things and places that you see around yourself in real life. The information that the app provides is gathered from Google databases, Wikipedia and social networks as well.
4 Yelp If you are a fan of eating out and trying new restaurants, then you must be well aware of Yelp. This is an online database of reviews and prices of restaurants, and you can now access it through an iPhone app. By pointing your camera at a restaurant in front of you, you will see reviews about it, its ratings, its prices, and you can even get proximity alerts telling you how far you are from the next best restaurant in the vicinity. This app is only available on iOS.
5 ARSoccer This is another great app that is available on iOS for free, and it is perfect for soccer fans. You will see your feet through the lens of the camera, and then a virtual soccer ball will appear on the screen which you will need to juggle by shifting your feet in real time. This is a very addictive AR game, and it derives its inspiration from the Microsoft Xbox Kinect.
6 FirePower This app is available for free for iOS users, and it works as a great stress buster. You can point your phone at a car that you see in front of you in real life, and then you can shoot at it with a variety of guns and cannons that are available on the app. Unfortunately, this app is not available on Android yet.
7 SpeedView This is a paid app that is available to Android users, and it is very useful for someone who is riding, driving, walking or running. The app makes use of the GPS receiver on the phone and displays information about the total distance traveled, the maximum speed, the average speed and the time traveled as well. A compass and several other great features make this an excellent app for someone who is always on the move.

As of now, iOS definitely has more of the better apps than Android. Hopefully, this is a situation that will change in the next few months, as more AR apps are released for Android users. In the meantime, you can make the most of the AR apps that are currently available, and you can change the way that you see the world.