Augmented reality [AR] is one of the growing trends in apps today for the iPhone. We’ve been using AR since the 1930s in some form. When you watch the weather report on the evening news, you’re watching augmented reality. The best apps today, however, give us more than the hopes of a mostly sunny day in the mid-70s. They help make our individual worlds a better place.
Here are some of the best AR apps that have stood the test of time, plus a few new ones to consider downloading today.
#1. Wikitude. This app brings over 3,500 content providers along with you wherever you take your iPhone. It recognizes locations through the phone and then automatically displays the appropriate reviews, information, or statistical pages that are associated with what you’re seeing. Move your iPhone to a different sight and you’ll get different data.
#2. Layar. This app is like having a barcode scanner provide additional data about products or services, but on a much higher level. There are thousands of different layers to explore and you’ll have access to data, like your local ATMs, while being able to watch videos straight from your favorite magazine pages.
#3. DanKam. This AR app enhances the color spectrum in the specific areas where users may have color blindness. The most common color deficiencies in human sight come from the red-green spectrum, so this app will enhance those color areas to give images better definition in the spectrum areas where there is normally some weakness. It won’t actually help people “see,” but it will make the world seem a little more normal.
#4. Pocket Universe. Have you ever looked up at the night sky and wondered what star it was that you were seeing? Or maybe forgot what the name of the constellation happens to be? This app will align to your location and then show you where the stars are in the sky. You can track the locations of planets as well and the informational details that are included will help you learn more about astronomy every time you look upwards at night. You’ll also be able to have an answer for that moment when your son asks, “Dad? What star is that one?”
#5. GeoTravel. If you travel a lot, then you know that finding the local places of interest that go beyond the tourist trap locations can be a bit difficult to find. You might pack some travel books or do some online research to answer the inevitable question: “What should we do today?” This app eliminates all of that. You get access to over 3.6 million articles about worldwide locations and that data is in 20 different languages. It will even help you navigate through your itinerary.
#6. HUDWay. One night back in my college days, my wife and I took a road trip where the road conditions were so bad that I couldn’t see more than 10 feet in front of the car. I wound up behind an 18 wheeler with a red reflective bumper and stayed behind it for 80 miles until conditions improved. If you don’t have that luxury, then you need this app. Set it up on your dashboard and it will show you what the road is supposed to do in front of you when you can’t see. You’ll see the route reflected back off of your windshield and voice assistance is integrated into the app.
#7. AR Invaders. To be honest, most of the AR games are a bit lame. Throw a piece of paper at your iPhone to play 8-bit basketball? That gets old fast. Resist an alien invasion in your backyard, at the office, or whatever other environment you happen to find yourself? Pure gold. Just don’t try it when your wife takes you out to the opera.
#8. SpotCrime. “Let’s go to the mall.” Those 5 fateful words in Las Vegas led me to one of the craziest mall experiences in my life. I tipped a guy who cleaned my shoes and his tip for me was this: “White people don’t come here.” This app will let you plan trips ahead of time by giving you current access to crime data. You’ll be able to avoid the rougher neighbors in cities you don’t know well and hopefully stay a bit safer.
There are dozens of augmented reality apps online right now, but these are the best ones that tend to be the most useful. Do you have a favorite AR app that didn’t make this list? Then share your favorites below.