Top 10 augmented reality apps

It's AR Week on Pocket-lint which means that we'll be running you through all the latest apps, features and news from the world of augmented reality. Each day we've been giving the AR lowdown in our 6pm App of the Day section, but obviously that only leaves room for a total of five apps for your smartphone.

We wouldn't want you to walk away light, so here we bring you ten of the best of those that didn't quite make the grade, but are all excellent downloads nonetheless. Whether it's games, social networking or work-related stuff that you're after, there's a little bit of AR goodness for everyone. Read on for our pick of the bunch.

 

1) Google Mobile App

With Google being the biggest search engine in the world, it's no surprise that this app is available for pretty much every mobile platform, including iOS and Android where it's actually several different apps broken down. As with the regular desktop versions of Google, you can use it to search by text and you can also use it to search by location or photos. Using the Google Goggles function, you can take a picture with the phone's camera and run a Google search on it. For example, you could take a picture of a company logo, a landmark, a book cover or even some text to be translated and the app will come up with all the relevant pages. Free

 

2) Layar

This one is probably the most well-known AR app around and it's available for the iPhone and Android. As the name suggests, Layar is an AR browser and uses AR technology to display layers of digital info in your phone's field of vision with the idea that it shows you things you can't see. There's a massive catalogue of over 1,500 layers for you to choose from, including partnerships with specific brands whose layers will enable you to do things like book hotels or find outlets of a specific chain of restaurants. The choice of layers is huge and also includes gaming and Twitter integration while the basic layer will point out places of interest when you hold the camera up. If you're into mobile AR, you need Layar on your phone. Free

 

3) T-800 Vision

This one is rather daft and entirely useless, but if we're honest it's still a hell of a lot of fun. In short, this app enables you to recreate the Terminator's red-tinged cyborg vision from the films. After booting up, it doesn't actually do much apart from displaying random scanning graphics on the display, but it's still pretty cool and a screen shot of yourself would make a great profile pic for Facebook. If you thought that the phrase "Hasta La Vista, baby" has been done to death already, you just wait until you get your hands on this little app. Free

 

4) Lookator

Sometimes it feels like we spend half our lives looking for free Wi-Fi, hooking up to free Wi-Fi or complaining about how we can't find any free Wi-Fi. This useful Android app should save you a bit of time (and trouble) by finding the nearest hotspots for you. All you need to do is hold your phone up and the app will do the work for you. It'll also give the relative strength and direction of each Wi-Fi network detected so hopefully you won't end up wasting your time with any ultra-weak open-zone signals. Free

5) AR Commando

If you're a fan of FPS games then this gun-based app should be right up your street. You can choose from a variety of shooters including an automatic assault rifle, and sniper rifle or a handgun, while the sound effects and rumble action mean that, perhaps somewhat alarmingly, you can pretend to shoot anything (or anyone) that you can see using your iPhone's camera. If any of your mates play this game for more than a hour a day - probably best to keep an eye on them. It's always the quiet ones. 59p

6) Pocket Universe

This is one for all the stargazers out there as it will tell you the name of all the constellations, stars and planets in the sky using the built-in compass to display the same view of the sky that you can actually see, along with the info. This is a great way for kids to learn about the constellations or simply for those who enjoy staring at the stars. If you want to try before you buy then check out the no-frills free version, Pocket Universe Express, for free. £1.79

7) AR Invaders

This is a bit like space invaders, but for the Facebook generation. It's basically an alien invasion game but with the added advantage of augmented reality. The idea is that you're part of the Earth's Resistance Forces and you have to fend off an attack by alien ships, using the target on your screen. The AR element means that you can play in your real surroundings (the effect is best when you're outside) and you can stand up and fight in 360 mode or take a seat and settle in for a 180-degree game. This one is iPhone 4 only, but the developer also offers a 3GS alternative called Look-Up. 59p

8) Wikitude

You can get this one for free on the iPhone, Android and from Nokia's Ovi Store. Dubbed the Wikitude World Browser, the app enables you to explore your surroundings using your phone's camera. It gives you access to plenty of info including Wikipedia articles, restaurants and location-based tweets; or you can search for specific places and it will give you directions on the map view. You'll also get the bonus of mobile coupons and discounts for nearby shops. Free

9) Droid Shooting

Here's one for the Android fans - this nifty little FPS gaming app lets you open fire on swarms of the pesky little green robots who are floating around. Naturally, there's an AR element to the proceedings, which means that the androids will be floating around in the air in your house, office or wherever else you choose to play. There's a handy radar in the corner of the screen so that you'll be able to keep track of where all the androids are before blasting them to smithereens. This one could become very addictive. Free

10) London Tube

If you're a regular user of the London Underground then chances are you know the tube map like the back of your hand. However, if you're not familiar with the capital's subterranean transport system or you simply need a reminder then this app is very useful indeed. As well as all the usual stuff like maps, transport news and a journey planner, the London Tube app also offers an AR mode that will enable you to find the nearest tube station using your phone's camera. It'll only spy stations that are within a 1km radius, but that should be plenty in order to get you on the last tube home. 59p

For more information on what Qualcomm is doing with Augmented Reality please click: http://www.qualcomm.co.uk/products/augmented-reality

And for more on AR Week head over to our AR Week homepage on Pocket-lint