Augmented reality apps build upon the world around us by displaying information overlays and digital content tied to physical objects and locations. For example, with games like Pokemon Go, you can capture and train digital creatures in the real world. You can also bring a static print ad to life, watch a movie trailer by pointing your smartphone camera at a poster, or discover nearby establishments and landmarks with your mobile device. Check out these impressive augmented reality apps for Android and iOS devices.
Combining the addictive collecting and battling-ready gameplay of Nintendo's Pokemon with Niantic's augmented reality technology, Pokemon Go (Android, iOS) has taken the mobile gaming world by storm. Pokemon Go sends players exploring their neighborhood on foot to discover, photograph and collect cute Pokemon from Nintendo's hit franchise. Each player's phone functions as a map and viewfinder, guiding you toward Poke Stops to collect items and helping you spot Pokemon to capture. Players who reach level 5 are encouraged to join one of three teams in order to battle each others' Pokemon for control of Pokemon Gyms.
Pokemon Go may be the hot new thing for Niantic, but Ingress (Android, iOS) is where the company first pioneered its GPS augmented reality gameplay. A massively multiplayer augmented reality game, Ingress has players joining rival secret societies to fight for control over "Exotic Matter" (XM) leaking into our world around landmarks and famous buildings, all while a science fiction thriller story unfolds. Using mobile devices, you travel to real world locations to gather "XM" and gain control of portals around buildings and landmarks. Fly the flag for the Enlightened or the Resistance in a game that encourages you to explore the world around you.
A leader in what it calls "Interactive Print", Layar (Android, iOS) allows users to view embedded digital content within a variety of sources, such as posters, magazine pages, advertisements and product QR codes. These can lead to a variety of extra content, such as movie trailers, product discount codes, linked videos, websites or alternate versions of a page or poster. The app also includes a Geo Layers feature for discovering nearby establishments, restaurants, events and more.
Blippar (Android, iOS) wants to add a new term to our high tech lexicon: 'blip', "the action of instantaneously converting anything in the real world into an interactive wow experience." Users can take a blippable object, such as a movie poster, magazine advertisement or product label, and pull up related digital content, such as interactive advertisements, links, trailers, promo videos or minigames.
Aurasma (Android, iOS) is another augmented reality app for viewing embedded content (or "Auras") in a variety of print ads, locations or packages. A neat feature that comes in Aurasma is the ability to create your own Auras using your photos and videos, or via a library of pre-built Auras available online. Simply choose your Aura's effect, then select a trigger image, and you're all set.
Google Translate (Android, iOS) is already a handy text and audio translation tool, and it gets even better with its augmented reality real-time visual translation features. All you need to do is hold up your smartphone camera and focus on the text, and Google Translate will provide real-time translations of words and phrases from a variety of languages. Users can download language packs, allowing for select offline translations when away from a cellular network.
Augmented reality is growing increasingly popular for advertising and promotion, but there are also great apps that let users exercise their creative side. Check out Mybrana (Android, iOS), a fun little app that allows users to overlay a variety of graphics, stickers and animations over photos and short videos, all of which you can share with your friends and family. Editing is a simple affair, and users can choose from a variety of free and premium additions to their photos and videos.