Augmented Reality: A virtual reality that combines real and generated images and information. With augmented reality you can do everything from find a good restaurant, play a game, type a text message while walking without running into a telephone pole, or even figure out where you’re going to hit your next golf shot.
There are some cool augmented reality apps made for the iPhone. Lets check out a few of them.
Plane Finder AR ($2.99) – (Also available in a limited FREE version.) – With this app, you can point the camera on your iPhone at a plane and you’ll see the flight number, aircraft registration, speed, altitude and distance.
The app works by picking up ADS-B plane feeds used by all commercial planes to transmit their name, position, destination and other information. Not all airlines and private flights use the ADS-B information, so not all flights will register in the device. I found about 60% of the flights I pointed it at came back with information.
When it works, it’s very cool. There’s no way to know how it’ll work for you, so you might want to try the free version first.
WIKITUDE Augmented Reality Browser (FREE) – This app connects you with the world around you in a very cool way. Hold up your iPhone, point the camera, and the app will show you information on places, allowing you to find restaurants, discover people and even play games. All through the app.
You can explore the area around you in augmented reality view, or see them on a map or list. Search for specific places, like types of restaurants, or entertainment. Organize and bookmark content. Find events and ATMs. Get restaurant and hotel recommendations from popular social websites. Play AR games. Create your own AR world and share it with your friends.
This is a great little app to help you explore unfamiliar areas while traveling.
Heads Up Navigator Pro ($0.99) – (Also available in an ad supported FREE version) – This app gives you a “augmented reality” navigation experience by overlaying labels directly onto the world around you, as shown by your iPhone’s camera. The display moves as you move the phone, allowing you easily pick out landmarks and addresses near you. This works better than it sounds on paper. You have to get in a different frame of mind to use this as compared to a “normal” navigation app.
All modes in the app show an overlay map of the area you’re in, and it rotates in real time with the device, so you can navigate confidently along city streets. By pointing your phone towards the ground, the map expands to fill the entire screen for easier navigation.
Golfscape GPS Rangefinder ($29.99) – This app is a must have for any golfer. Especially if you enjoy playing new courses. This app gives you the same information for a course that normally only a club regular would know.
Simply select the course you’re playing, point the iPhone’s camera towards the fairway or green, and the app will show you an overlay over the live view of the hole, showing: Distances to the front, center and back of the green, up to 40 target per hole, allows you to identify hazards, select desired landing areas, and see a full 360 degree view of the course. Position indicators point to each hazard and gives you distances as you view your target through the iPhone’s camera.
I use this app whenever I golf. It’s worth the 30 bucks to have a “club” like this “in your bag.”
Type and Walk ($0.99) – This app lets you see what’s in front of you while you’re typing a message and walking. It shows a view of what’s directly in front of you, to try to help you avoid obstacles while typing a message in the street. The message and keyboard float over the view of the environment in front of you.
After typing the message, you can send it via email, post the message to Facebook, send it as an SMS/MMS message, “autopaste” into various online services.
I liked this app, but it’s a little weird to view what’s in front of you through the app. I still found myself looking up to see where I was going.
ARBasketball (FREE) – This is a cool little time waster. After downloading a PDF of a “marker” and printing it out you load the app and point your iPhone’s camera at it. The app will then show you the basketball hoop in place of the printed marker. You then shoot baskets using swipe gestures.
There are three game modes, global leaderboards, integration with social networks, Retina Display support, and the game even autosaves if you exit, or get a phone call!
Sure, you could play real basketball, but that would require getting up out of your chair and going outside. With ARBasketball, you get a chance to rest your feet after all that walking with all these other apps.
There you have it. If regular reality is boring, augment it! These apps are just the tip of the virtual iceberg. There are pages and pages of them on the App Store. Do you have a favorite app I might have missed? If so, let me know in the comments section below. If I get leads on enough good apps, I’ll put together another list.
If you have an idea for types of apps we can put together lists for, let us know. You can contact me at: email@example.com.