Ultimate Guide To iPhone Augmented Reality – Part III Browsers
The augmented reality guide for the iPhone series is a bit like painting the Golden Gate Bridge. By the time you have finished compiling a list more have hit the appstore so your work is out of date.
For today’s ultimate guide we’ll focus on augmented reality browsers. The holder of the best augmented reality browser for 2009 is of course Wikitude which was voted no.1 in the Augmented Planet Readers Choice Awards, so who should we be looking out for in 2010?
WhereMark is a relatively new arrival but has already caught the eye.
Plus points, great UI, innovative pinch and stretch zoom, search across multiple categories. Negative points, difficult to see what category is selected, switches between portrait and landscape.
Verdict well worth installing
Another new entry, visually looks fantastic. I really love the lock-on effect where the targeting targeting reticle locks on to a POI. The search criteria is also presented nicely and it’s easy to perform a one click search.
While it looks great it is not without problems. The initial search range is set ridiculously low and it took an accident before I figured out that there is a hidden menu on the right hand side of the screen that controls range.
Data accuracy, I know I moan about a lot about this, but pressing the Indian restaurants button reveals 10 matches. 6 of which are Chinese restaurants, 1 is a grill, 2 are Indian restaurants, and one KFC. If you are going to go to the effort of having dedicated search buttons the least you could do is ensure that the data is going to be correct.
While Yell looks good, as you use it you’ll see that the application feels empty. There is no map for example so navigation is difficult and once you have your POI selected very little information is given, in my tests nothing more than the ability to place a phone call was shown.
Verdict, disappointing from Yell you would expect better accuracy, but worth installing and showing your friends the cool lock-on feature.
Zagat To Go
This is another visually stunning app, the ability to scroll A La Street View through the results is pretty cool. Zagat also has a review system so you’ll know if the restaurant you are visiting is any good. It’s difficult to find a downside to this app other than the price ($9.99), but 89 reviews out of 107 give the application 4 stars or above so they must be doing something right.
Verdict, cool app if you are looking for a high quality application to find places to eat and you are not on a budget then well worth getting.
Another new browser launched in early February. Search is performed by dedicated buttons which orientate themselves to either portrait or landscape depending on how you hold your device. Searching for Indian restaurants returns a good set of results, all of which actually look like they are Indian restaurants (no KFCs). As you can search POIs from different categories the compass has a nice touch where each POI is identified by a different colour.
The downside, the POIs in the camera window were pretty difficult to select. POIs were often place on top of each other making it impossible to select those that were further way. There is also no map so no navigation.
Verdict, not really tested in anger. Needs work on selecting POIs
The Acrossair browser feels like it’s a collection of different AR applications rather than a single app. You can find the nearest tweets, wiki’s, search for restaurants or if you’re in a social the mood you can share your location with your buddies via facebook, twitter, or email. There is even an option to find where you left your car.
There is a good collection of functionality here but it feels like a bit of a jumble. With applications, presentation is often everything. If a user doesn’t like the look and feel they wont come back no matter how good the app is. Here the developers have gone for just putting everything into a list and it feels like it has just be thrown together, it really doesn’t do it any justice.
Verdict, worth installing just for the car locator application
Other world browsers.
- Bionic Eye
- Nearest Places
And The Rest
In Rouli’s (ARTimes.net) predictions for 2010 I predicted that everyone would have augmented reality browser functionality by the end of the year, so expect this list to grow. In the meantime if you are looking for even more browsers, try these.
- A Cafe View
- Spot Crime – see where crimes are taking place around you. (US only I believe)
- Stella Artois
- Urban spoon
- Nearest Wiki
- Nearby Navigator
- Ristoranti d’Italia del Gambero Rosso
- Taiwan Food AR
- Compass Camera
- A Nearby View
- Beijing Discovery AR