The Pokémon Go craze may be so 2016, but augmented reality apps aren't going anywhere. The iPhone has seen a bunch of AR-powered apps in the past year, thanks to ARKit developer tools released as part of iOS 11, with the iOS 12 update bringing more advances this fall. Google has developer tools of its own in the form of ARCore, and it's introducing changes that will enable even more features such as shared AR experiences. AR-powered directions are even going to find their way into Google's Maps app. All things considered, the future of AR is pretty exciting.
But the present shouldn't be overlooked either. From augmented reality viewers that provide immersive print and advertising, to clever AR games, social media toys, and practical utilities, check out some of the best augmented reality apps available for Android and iOS devices.
Photo Credit: Philip Michaels/Tom's Guide
Doodles just got a lot more interested. Google's latest ARCore creation, Just a Line, brings your drawings to life using augmented reality. Since it's a Google app, it's compatible with a host of Android devices. However, the free app just made the leap to iOS so iPhone users can get in on the fun. All you need to play is a smartphone, your finger and plenty of imagination. After you've finished your AR masterpiece, you can capture on video and share it with friends. Although Just a Line can be a fun solo activity, it's a lot better with a friend or two.
Google Lens is the latest iteration of the Google Goggles concept, with the search giant using the power of its computing cloud to help identify text, images, objects and landmarks in your photographs in order to get more information. The app is available in a standalone version in Android, and is also integrated into the latest versions of Google Photos on Android and iOS.
MORE: Google Lens Guide
BBC's Civilizations AR (Android, iOS) is a tie-in app to the broadcaster's Civilizations documentary series. It uses the power of augmented reality to bring to you more than 30 different artifacts from across the many epochs and great civilizations of the world. It's the next best thing to being able to handle these ancient treasures and works of art. Each artifact can be viewed in lifelike 3D renderings using your phone as an AR viewfinder. You can check out interactive features like x-ray views and narrations, and learn about the secrets, origins and history of these global cultural treasures.
Language learning app Mondly (Android, iOS) adds an augmented reality-assisted spin with a module for ARKit and AR Core-enabled phones. Mondly's AR features engages language learners with an animated chatbot as well as visualizations of objects and words to help make learning more dynamic, as well as providing instant feedback on pronunciation and any errors. All of this is in addition to Mondly's lessons, games, and practice conversations designed to cover more than 30 different languages.
YouCam Makeup (Android, iOS) is an AR-assisted selfie camera that doubles up as a makeup and fashion assistant, letting you preview a range of beauty products such as lipstick, blush, and eye makeup from brands like L'Oreal, Maybelline, and Urban Decay, generated in real-time with augmented reality. In addition to the makeup and accessories previews and your expected selfie cam editing features, YouCam Makeup also features a lively social element, allowing you to share looks, follow other users, and shop and review featured products.
The Machines is a competitive multiplayer strategy game that takes advantage of Apple's ARKit to turn your tabletop into a virtual battlefield. Players take command of a force of machines to defeat their enemy, with the iPhone serving as a viewfinder that you have to physically move around to position your forces and aim superweapons. Players can train and learn in the practice mode, and once they're ready, they can battle it out in online multiplayer or in local multiplayer with friends gathered around the same table.
The Escher-space-meets-Rubik's-Cube puzzles of Euclidean Lands make it one of our favorite mobile brain teasers, and the app launched an update with the release of iOS 11 that allows you to take its puzzles into augmented reality. The new AR mode lets you overlay the game's puzzles into the real world, giving players a new perspective in a game that's all about manipulating the environment and point of view.