Layar For The iPhone Is Here
Yesterday saw one of the augmented reality browsers heavy weights finally come to the iPhone. I first got to play with Layar a few months back on a friends HTC Hero, he came to the pub to tell me about his fantastic new phone, I was just waiting for him to hand it over so I could install Layar and give it a go.
Layar if you don’t know is billed as the worlds first augmented reality browser (I’m sure the Wikitude guys would contest that). With Layar you can search for interesting things around you, eg restaurants and see their relative position in the camera view. As you move the camera around the list of restaurants will change to reflect what is in front of you. With Layar you can search for just about anything and once you find what you are looking for, clicking it will either give you more info eg address, telephone number, or directions on how to get there.
One of the big reasons for getting Layar is the ability to add specialist points of interest or layers as they are called, and anyone can create a layer and publish it for other Layar users to use. As of today there are 155 layers listed on the Layarwebsite with around 30 available for use in the UK. Layar will filter irrelevant country content so it wont be available. Unless you are in Japan you probably won’t want to know about real estate for sale in Kobe, so the filtering works really well. Once you have found layers that you like you can add them to your favorites so they are always there and in easy reach. New layers will appear in the application automatically in either the popular or featured section so be sure to look in their often.
The initial list of 3rd party layers available in the UK is pretty varied covering tube stations, hotels, theaters, twitters, wikipedia and more. And of course don’t forget with the Layar local search you can find anything so the posibilities are endless. There are some layers that I would still like to see, Pubs and ATMs would be a great addition, but the one that intrigues me the most is the Schiphol flights layer for flights around Amsterdam. I maybe reading to much into that one but being able to point my iPhone at a plane and know that is an A320 from New York at 20,000 ft landing in London would be the coolest thing ever. The developer is Dutch but I did manage to dig around and find another of their projects which shows live flight information around Amsterdam, their Layar plugin is based on this project: http://casper.frontier.nl
Layar has been a longtime coming to the iPhone and now it’s here it was definitely worth the wait. Layar has certainly been one of the most eagerly anticipated augmented reality applications for sometime and so far the feedback in the appstore has been positive, but I hear one or two grumblings about accuracy. My usage has been pretty good, it’s not spot on but it’s not miles out either. The application shows you the accuracy to expect at all times so either some people are missing the accuracy indicator or have too high expectations. Layar is well worth installing and could be the only augmented reality app you’ll ever need.