iPhone Augmented Reality Apps You'll Want to Use

These apps show how you are going to use augmented reality

There are some big differences between Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), the two terms tend to be used synonymously, but that is not correct. 

While VR is great for immersive games (such as this great collection in this report), for training, and a variety of feels-like-being-there experiences, AR solutions can change your real life. AR does not try to replace your reality, but to add to it.

These additions can consist of information about where you are, intelligent suggestions to get you there, useful tools you can use to get something done, and much more. 

Recent Opinium research claims up to 171 million people will be using these solutions by 2018. To provide you with a sense of how this might work we’ve assembled this list of AR iPhone apps we think you’ll want to use.

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Know Your History

One of London's most iconic sights
London was home to the world's first VR experience at Piccadilly, not so far from Tower Bridge. City of London PR

Not many people know that the first public VR experience appeared over two hundred years ago in London, in 1792. Irish-born entrepreneur, Robert Barker, used painted backdrops and clever lighting effects to give visitors the sensation of being inside the picture. It was effective enough that in 1794 UK Queen Charlotte had to leave the building when a naval battle made her feel seasick. (These days we call such illness motion sickness, and it's a known problem among hardcore VR users).

Augment app
See what isn't there with Augment. Augment PR

Have you ever asked yourself how two objects might look beside each other? That’s where this handy app comes into its own.

It helps you see what isn’t there.

Not only can it render three dimensional objects that you can then virtually place where you like, but it will also create renderings using QR codes.

How it works: Launch the app and use the camera to get to the part of the room you want to visualize the object in. You can then take the rendered object and resize it to fit what you see. The app ships with a substantial library of objects, including educational, merchandising and interior design collections. Think of this as a great way to get a feel for how things may look before you invest in furniture or other changes. More »

See it in place
IKEA Use AR and VR Apps. IKEA PR

Ikea offers AR tools that let you virtually place its furniture in your home.

The idea is simple and effective: you want your home or office to look great, and no matter how good something looks in the catalog there is nothing better than seeing it in your home. Once you’ve placed an item you can choose different colors and style configurations to help you decide if it works in your home.

How it works: All you need is the IKEA catalog app and a copy of the current IKEA catalog (real or digital). When you find something in the catalogue that you like you just need to place the relevant catalog page where you would like the item top be in your home; point your camera and you'll see it virtually in position. More »

WordLens in Google Translate
You'll Never Have Problems Reading Anywhere. Google https://www.blog.google/topics/google-asia/lost-translation-no-more-word-lens-japanese/

Google Translate sometimes generates laughably weird translations, but it still excels at simple day-to-day translation tasks.

The Google Translate app takes this a few steps further—it lets you translate words offline and online, lets you take or import photos for higher quality translations and more.

However, in a quite thrilling AR implementation, it will also translate street signs using OCR and your iPhone’s camera. That’s incredibly useful for travelers.

How it works: The app is insanely simple. All you must do is point your camera at a sign, tell the app which language you wish to translate, hit the big red button and read the translation on screen. More »

Improve your Drawing Ability with SketchAR
You Will Draw Amazing Images With SketchAR. SketchAR PR image

SketchAR is a smart solution that helps you do something hard in the real world, in this case, draw impressive seeming images with your own hand. You can choose between a big collection of line drawings which the app virtually projects at a piece of paper using the smartphone display, making it much easier to draw.

How it works: Launch the app and place your iPhone on a tripod to keep it stable. Choose the image you want to draw, point the camera at your paper on the table and draw five circles on the paper.

The app will use those circles to orientate itself, once it does it will virtually draw what it is you want to draw on the paper, using the screen. Now you just need to follow the guidance of the app to impress others with your sketching ability. More »

See more with Wikitude
Wikitude Enriches What you See with Real Information. Wikitude/Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/wikitude/30944213892/in/photolist-P9rbHb-794nAJ-eaBHKZ-794pe9-78ZxbZ-78Zm94-LambJR-Lh5i3M-6atJv8-78Zxxc-92ji42-KkvCac-KQPiKJ-KkejA7-KQNhEj

Wikitude is a really cool example of an AR solution for the iPhone, a complete AR development platform used by big brands, travel catalogs, retailers and publishers  to deliver a range of compelling solutions.  

One such application, Lonely Planet provides Wikitude-based city guides that use your location data and smartphone to provide you with local information surfaced from Wikipedia and TripAdvisor. The idea is that when you stand in a place the app will use your location data and geospatial information to determine where you are and superimpose information such as restaurant or tourist information on what you see on-screen.

How it works: It’s a simple as point, click and select. You choose between data sources and what sort of information you wish to find. One more thing: One tap of the ‘route me there’ option will fetch you Apple Maps to guide you to what you see.  More »

Explore Your Body with Anatomy 4D
This Amazing AR App Shows You What You Cannot See. Daqri

Humans are complicated. The human body is even more complicated. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about how humans are built, you may have read books, looked at pictures, now you can use AR to take a look.

Developed by DAQRI, the completely interactive Anatomy 4D app lets you explore the various parts of the body in 3D.You can even zoom in to organs to learn how all the parts of the body relate to each other. It’s an incredibly compelling combination of virtual and real technology.

How it works: Open the app and print one of the images from its Target Library. Put it down flat, select ‘viewer’ in the app and point your camera at it. You will see that part of the body in 3D on your smartphone display, turn it, zoom in and out, and explore the rest of the complex human body. This free app is a journey through the human.  More »

Lifeprint AR
Pictures with lives of their own. Lifeprint

LifePrint is a little more expensive than the other solutions we’ve mentioned, most of which are free. It is a little different, it requires a special printer, an online service and an app, but in use it brings your own photo collections to life.

You take moving and still images and create VR scenes which are played back using an app on a smartphone when pointed at an image printed using a LifePrint printer. 

How it works: Gather still images and video together using the app, create the static image, and print and point. You can also have the image print to other people’s printers and they will also see the video. This implementation still sounds a little complicated, but I like to think of it as a bit like the Marauder’s Map in the Harry Potter series.  More »

Find Out More About What You See
Smartify Opens You Up to Art Appreciation. Smartify PR image

Smartify’s aim is ever so simple: point your iPhone at an object of art in a gallery or museum and its intelligent image recognition technology will try to identify the picture and give you more information about it. This sounds great, but implementation is limited. The museum/gallery you are attending needs to sign-up for the service, in exchange for which they’ll gain (anonymized) access to info about what people do and see at that location.

How it works: Smartify works at the Louvere in Paris, France, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Wallace Collection in London. Not only this, but image recognition inside the app is so good that when you point your iPhone at a postcard image of a piece held by one of these collections you'll get all the information about it. More »

Your iPhone is a Compass
Never Get Lost With iPhone GPS. Magenta Software PR image

This great app uses your iPhone’s built in GPS to provide you with a range of navigational tools you’ll use.

Developed by Happy Magenta, it superimposes GPS navigation on your display, provides a real compass with Maps integration, lets you point your camera at the stars to figure out where you are going, and even lets you place (and find) virtual waypoints to help. The app also provides you with a variety of other pieces of interesting information, such as speed of movement and height above sea level. You can even use the app as a sextant.

How it works: This is a very well developed, complex, and useful app that takes the GPS data your iPhone already collects and augments it with layers of intelligence for anyone exploring the outdoors. More »

Gorillaz in Your House
A Fantastic Example of Music Marketing and Augmented Reality. Photo Credit: J C Hewlitt

There is no doubt that VR and AR will be used in marketing. One great example of this came from Blur front man, Damon Albarn’s other band, Gorillaz. It recently published its own AR app, called Gorillaz.

Part game, part music promo it lets you explore images from the band’s recent videos—but you’ll find them superimposed onto your surroundings. Tapping on these virtual objects when they appear on your iPhone screen gives access to interesting extras, such as playlists, video clips and more.

How it works: The app uses your iPhone camera to create the illusion and shows you your slightly altered universe on your screen. It’s a great example of how popular culture can exploit these technologies to bridge the gap between artists and fans. More »

Blippar -- Intelligence Anywhere
Blippar's powerful solution uses super-advanced tech to augment your world. Blippar PR image

Blippar uses augmented reality, artificial intelligence and computer vision to provide you with more information about what you find around you. It lets you point your iPhone at objects around you to get all kinds of interesting information about them, with sophisticated image recognition algorithms figuring out what the objects are and fetching relevant info.

The company also provides services to brands, who can provide all kinds of augmented information and other content to make available to Blippar users.

How it works: Launch the app and point your iPhone camera at an object and Blippar will try to figure out what the object is, offering you information about it through a circular interface, including data from social networks, Wikipedia, and Blippar brands. More »

Adding Intelligence to Everyday Reality

Augmented and virtual reality are big solutions. As these technologies become more accessible we will see these solutions weave themselves across everyday life. This short collection shows how these tools can add intelligence across all kinds of needs—in future as the devices we use to access them become wearable, we should see even more evolution in this space.