Layar 3 Back To The iPhone – worth the wait?
Layer 3 makes a welcomed return to the iPhone, I was interested to see if the new version would be just a bug fix to fix the crashes or a update with the new 3D features. If you are a Layar fan you may want to go and get yourself a cup of coffee and skip today’s blog.
Firstly, the good news, it is the update with the 3D functionality rather than just a bug fix. There are some nice new 3D layers. Screenshots 3D is a fun layer where you can include a 3D image into a picture, if you have used Junaio then the idea is very similar. The problem is however is you can’t place the 3D object where you want it so you’ll have to arrange your subject around what Layar dictates. You’ll get four instances of the 3D image appear (north, south, east and west) in your compass and it’s up to you to position the subject to those points. I tried to take a picture of the Sphinx in my garden but the best I could get was the Sphinx hovering 20 feet above a car park. When you do have your subject lined up the next problem is tying to figure out how you take the picture, so far the only way I have found is to take a screenshot which means you’ll get the Layar UI obscuring your picture, probably not what you wanted.
On several tests with the Catch Of The Day layer all the fish appeared clumped together (see screenshot) rather than in separate locations. I also had giant fish appear that were so huge only part of them appeared on the screen. I’m pretty sure neither of these things were meant to happen.
Leading on to the UI, it’s very inconsistent. There is a 2 degrees icon which sometimes when pressed appears to tilt the screen by a few degrees, other times it doesn’t really do anything. I can’t really get my head around that feature. There is also (I’m assuming) a hide POI icon which sometimes causes the POIs drop off the screen and hide and other time just drop a few degrees but stay on the screen. I think the idea is to show distance and scale but the idea doesn’t quite work.
I didn’t test all the layers but, Pubs Galore found my local pub which was good, but the UK Post Box Finder which I thought would be useful failed to find anything despite the fact that I can see a post box from my window. I have said before that Layar are doing a great job getting developers to build layers, some of them however will leave you scratching your head as to why. Take Urban Farm for example, load it and you’ll see icons of animals which do not represent the locations of where they can been seen, selecting the icon give you useful information like ‘Cow’, ‘Turkey’ or ‘Chicken’. Layers like that make me question the quality of the other layers, I think when time permits I will look though the list to see what the quality is like for all 370 layers. On the subject of useful, the Tube Stations layer has been extended to show you the live departure board which is really cool. The integration with the live departure board could have been better than just taking you to TFL’s website, but any ray of sunshine will do.
I was surprised that since the previous Layar was pulled from the appstore due to crashes, I suffered 4 random crashes when testing the application this morning, nothing reproducible just click an icon and boom, app gone. Sadly I still have to complain about the fact that Layar still haven’t caught on to the fact that not everyone in uses KMs.
Having written this I feel like I am too negative, perhaps I got out of bed the wrong side this morning, but Layar and Wikitude are like the Microsoft and Apple of the augmented reality browser world and as such everything they do you expect to be ground breaking. I had such high hopes for Layar 3 but I don’t feel that it’s a step forward from the previous version. The 3D functionality is still buggy and the UI confusing.
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It will be it be interesting to hear what you guys think. Love it or hate it?