Our countdown of the top AR apps focuses on this modern technology. More and more augmented reality apps are becoming available. The technology to use AR was not widely available until a few years ago, but now, most people have smartphones and there are lots of apps springing up to allow you to make the most of AR.
What is AR?
AR stands for augmented reality. This is a technology that uses the live feed from the camera and creates an interactive experience by combining 2D or 3D images with the feed so that they appear one and the same.
One of the ways that technology has had its profile raised is through the success of Pokemon Go. This app allows you to see the fictional Pokemon overlaid onto the camera feed so it looks like they’re standing right in front of you. This is a brilliant example of AR, but it is just one of many uses for the technology.
AR can actually be traced back to the 90s when it was developed as a training aid, but the hardware and software was expensive. It wasn’t available to the average consumer. As smartphones and other smart devices have grown, augmented reality has become something that you can access in seconds via your phone or tablet.
AR has some distinct differences from VR, but people associate them as being very similar technologies. There are some similarities, of course, and the growth of VR in recent years means that people understand the AR tech, which is undeniably growing.
Top AR Apps of 2020 Reviewed
The following apps are those which stand out as the best in 2019. It’s amazing to see some of the applications that are being built and there are plenty besides this list that could easily have made the list.
This app is available on both Apple and Android. It’s a very clever use of the technology and while this doesn’t appeal to everyone, it may be a makeup fans best friend. It is effectively an augmented reality front-facing camera. It turns your selfie camera into a virtual makeup station and lets you virtually check what a huge range of makeup and beauty products look like on your face.
You can’t try out makeup with this level of ease in real life. It’s instant, and you don’t have to spend ages taking makeup off and then reapplying. Also, you can use lots of different makeup from top brands including Maybelline and L’Oreal. Also, you can use the app to add some accessories and see how these look too. Obviously, it is easy to get swept up and buy lots of new makeup and accessories!
YouCam includes the option to share images socially too, so you can send out new looks to your friends and see what they think. The app is great fun, but it’s very useful as well and can help you to transform your looks.
Star Walk 2
Have you ever wanted to demystify the skies at night without having to spend hours looking things up? Star Walk 2 gives you an interactive guide to the skies! It’s like taking an expert out with you to tell you what the constellations and planets above you are doing!
You can spot planets and celestial bodies and the app will even show overlays on the constellations so that you can see exactly what you’re looking at. You can look at the ‘time machine’ mode that’s included to help you look at what the sky was like (or will be like) at a specific date in the past or in the future. There’s a ‘night mode’ to help your camera to adjust to the low light, too.
This is a wonderful example of how AR can be used to educate us, too, and people of all ages love looking at what is going on in the stars! There’s a small cost to this app, but you will probably use it time and time again.
Get it from Google Play or App Store
ARitize is an augmented reality shopping app as well as being a way to create 3D environments from 2D objects. The technology running this app is very impressive, and it is clear to see why it has such amazing benefits for commerce.
Of course, it benefits the customer, by allowing people to test out what things will look like in their home or just see them in a 3D environment. A great example is if you are looking to buy something for your home, such as a lamp, a rug or a painting. Being able to see it as if it were in the room by using ARitize is a great tool for testing whether or not something will look good.
ARitize is also a fantastic app for retailers to show off their products and helps them to increase conversion rates by giving an accurate view of what their items are going to look like when installed within the home.
Okay, so it may not appear to be the most useful app on the surface, but that doesn’t mean that Pokemon Go isn’t a whole heap of fun. Also, there have been many reports of it encouraging people to get out of the house and be more active. After something of a buzz when it was first released, the app has died down a little bit, but there’s still a huge community of players making it more than worthwhile getting the app and having some fun!
You can join in with the community without having any other friends who have the app, you just need to download it and get started. It takes a bit of time to build up to a level where you are one of the best (some people have been playing for years) but you can still have a lot of fun catching and training Pokemon.
This is where the AR element comes in. The app uses the camera feed to make it look like the Pokemon are really there in front of you and give them a 3D look they never had in the original games.
The app is popular among kids, but it’s for adults too. If you enjoyed playing Pokemon the first time around back in the 90s then there’s every chance you’re going to get a serious nostalgia trip.
Google Translate is a very smart piece of software. If you’ve ever used it to have a conversation with someone speaking another language you’ve probably been stunned at how sophisticated and reliable it can be.
Google Translate got even more sophisticated when it introduced an AR capability. The augmented reality function means that translate can effectively read signs and other writing on your behalf in other languages and how them as text in whatever language you set it to. This is the technology of sci fi films of the past, and it is amazing that it is here today.
The AR capabilities of Google Translate aren’t flawless, there are errors with handwriting and it can’t quite read whole books or big blocks of text flawlessly, but for signposts and the like, the AR technology can be a lifesaver.
Vuforia Chalk is not flawless as a piece of AR software. It could do with some improvements being made, however, the concept is fantastic and we fully expect it to grow in popularity. This is a use of AR that will surely continue to show its worth over the years and one of the ways it can make life more convenient.
Vuforia Chalk uses AR to give you tech support! The app can connect you via video to someone who knows what they’re doing and they can talk you through what to do, and also annotate what’s on the screen. For instance, if you can’t work out how to use a washing machine, you could call someone on the app and ask them, they can tell you in exact detail and even annotate on the app the buttons you should be pressing.
This is a basic example, but in some scenarios where you need to be visually shown where something is or what it looks like, the Vuforia Chalk app can come in extremely handy. Think of the way doctors could potentially use this remotely to help you to administer first aid, for example.
How AR can change your life?
These exciting and original uses of AR are some of the ways it is becoming a part of everyday life. In the future, we will surely use AR for all sorts of aspects of modern life as time goes on.
More apps are being released all the time, including AR games, learning tools, shopping tools and simple novelty games. There’s even a game that makes it look like you have a pet dinosaur. We expect the 2020 list of the best AR apps to look even more exciting, but for now, these incredible apps can revolutionize how you use your smart device.