The iPhone 3.1 update enables a new realm of “augmented reality” iPhone apps, which use the iPhone’s GPS, compass and accelerometer to impose a virtual layer of information over a view of the real world as seen from your iPhone’s camera.
Augmented reality iPhone apps will revolutionize the way we access information on the go. Don’t believe me? Check out these 7 augmented reality iPhone apps that are in the App Store right now:
Note: Because they use the iPhone’s compass, many of these apps are compatible only with iPhone 3GS.
- Cheap Gas!
The Cheap Gas iPhone app is a gas station locator for your iPhone 3GS with an Augmented Reality View that shows you icons of nearby gas stations and prices in the direction where you’ve pointed your iPhone’s camera.
- cAR Locator
- Fairy Trails
Fairy Trails is a children’s game that overlays flying fairies, fireflies and butterflies on the real world as seen from the lens of your iPhone camera. Your mission is to capture them before they fly off the screen.
- Nearest Tube (UK only)
Nearest Tube is a UK app that shows you train/tube stations in the vicinity.
cAR Locator is an iPhone 3GS app that shows you in the camera viewfinder where your car is located and how far away. Just press “Save Location” when you get out of your car, then point your iPhone camera in any direction and you’ll be reminded where your car is.
Cyclopedia shows you information about nearby landmarks and historic locations in your iPhone’s viewfinder. Point your iPhone’s camera at the Statue of Liberty, for example, and it will overlay the Wikipedia entry for that landmark. Cyclopedia relies on the 65,000 entries on Wikipedia that are geotagged.
The Wikitude World Browser finds “Points of Interest” in your vicinity and overlays information from Wikipedia, Qype and Wikitude.Me.
Perhaps the most intriguing example of an augmented reality iPhone app is Robotvision for iPhone 3GS, which uses the power of Bing’s local search feature to show you nearby attractions in your vicinity, including ATMs, art galleries, bars and pubs, coffee shops, gas stations, gyms, hospitals, hotels and motels, movie theaters, restaurants, rest stops, schools and tourist attractions.
Robotvision also shows you Twitter updates from people in your area, based on geotagging information embedded in the tweets; and Flickr photos of nearby attractions. It seems the app places a limit on the number of attraction, tweets or Flickr photos you can see in a given area, but nevertheless this app shows a lot of promise.
Although these augmented reality iPhone apps leave some things to be desired, they are the first wave of a new kind of app that that is bound to dramatically change the way we find information.
Have you downloaded any augmented reality iPhone apps? If you don’t own an iPhone 3GS, would you upgrade for the opportunity to use AR apps? Speak your mind in the comments.