Wikitude For The iPhone – First Look
With the release of both Layar and Wikitude for the iPhone last week it was a good week for augmented reality users. Since I have had the chance to play around with Wikitude over the weekend here are some of my first thoughts.
Wikitude looks great and can be used in both landscape and portrait mode without taking up any more screen space, change the orientation and the options on the right just update to reflect the new view. Like all augment reality browsers Wikitude comes equipped with a compass with the POIs plotted (so you know where to look) but Wikitude has a cool feature where once you select a POI it’s visual indication on the compass changes making it easier to find again.
For your augmented reality exploring, Wikitude uses POI’s from 3 data sources.
Wikitude shows the Wikipedia entries for POIs around you, selecting an item will take you to the relevant Wikipedia page for more info. This is really useful to discover and learn about things you take for granted. for example that river you pass every day, now you can finally find out where it goes and where it comes from. If you are on holiday then this feature will come into its own. While those around you are saying that’s a nice church you’ll be able to tell them who built it and when it was built. So long tour guide.
Shows business such as banks, and shops and selecting takes you to the Qype page where you can get the relevant details such as address, phone number and webpage.
Anyone can create a POI for Wikitude by visiting Wikitude.me and entering a few simple details. Its actually very simple, pick the location from a map enter a description and optional URL and it will appear in the camera view almost instantly. It’s a good way to share reviews with other Wikitude users. Already there are lots of pub and restaurant reviews making it really useful for those nights out.
Wikitude is a great application, install it and you will use it often, but it’s not without a few faults. Localization for example, when you search using Qype and are taken to the relevant Qype page where all the options are shown in what I assume is Dutch. Your search result are in English but I guessing since the request goes though the Wikitude server in Holland there is some Qype localization going on that is giving back a Dutch page. It doesn’t really detract from the results but I don’t know what a “Baustoffhandel in London” is either. While on the subject of localization in the UK we use miles but both Wikitude and Layar report distances in kilometers and don’t give an option to change which is annoying. Wikitude also defaults to displaying results up to it’s range limit of 84.61km for Wikitude.me entries which would seem a little on the far side as I have very little interest in the cricket club bar that is 72kms away from me. Depending on which database you are using the distance changes, 20.4km for Wikipedia and 1.13km for Qype so it gets a little confusing. Just change the distance I hear you cry, well the problem is the next time you restart the app the distances are reset to the maximum again.
There will be the inevitable Layar vrs Wikitude conversations and I don’t want to go there (today at least), but since Layar also has a Wikitude plug-in I did a direct comparison between the two applications on local Wikitude POIs. For my location Layar shows the nearest tube stations along with a local park. Setting Wikitude to the same range and using the Wikipedia data source it doesn’t show me any POI’s around my current location. The tube stations are not shown and neither is the park which is strange since both applications are using the same database.
I have a soft spot for Wikitude, the UI is great and it’s easy to use, despite the few annoying bits it’s still a great application and was well worth the wait. Give it a go it’s well worth installing.