iPhone and iPad

6 Free Apps To Try Out Augmented Reality On Your iPhone

Tim Brookes 18-05-2011

<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/intro5.jpg”>augmented reality iphoneAugmented reality is way cool. Using your camera, location and the right apps, it is possible to overlay useful, relevant information on top of live camera images to provide an enhanced view of the world around you.


AR (as we’ll be calling it from now on) is set to become big business in the next few years, with more and more of us carrying potential AR units around with us in our pockets, everywhere we go.

You can try out some impressive AR technology right now, for free, with these 6 great augmented reality apps for your iPhone. You might be surprised at just how smart your smartphone can be! All have been tested on an iPhone 4 running iOS 4.3.2.

Theodolite Free [No Longer Available]

augmented reality iphone

Traditionally a theodolite is an age-old instrument used by surveyors and meteorologists for the precise measurement of angles. In a similar vein, Theodolite Free is a multi-functional app designed for surveying, navigation and all manner of outdoor pursuits.

The app serves as a compass, GPS The 9 Best iPhone GPS Apps Read More (displaying longitude, latitude, elevation and so on), zoom scope and a two-axis inclinometer. Theodolite Free reports back with real-time information about position, bearing and horizontal/vertical incline data, live on your screen.


There are also Basic and Pro versions available for $1.99 and $3.99 respectively, which add advanced features such as an A-B calculator for judging height, distance and so on. If you have a need for this kind of thing, Theodolite Free (or a paid version) is an absolute must-have.

Layar [No Longer Available]

augmented reality

We’ve mentioned Layar before Layar - A Versatile Augmented Reality For iPhone & Android Read More , but as it’s a thoroughly exciting and promising app I’m going to highlight it again. Layar takes what the project refers to as “layers”, and places them on top of your iPhone’s field of vision.

These layers usually refer to a theme or specific point of interest and can be downloaded within the app. Layers serve different purposes – for example, buying cinema tickets simply by pointing your phone at the cinema and touching a button, or finding nearby grocery stores simply by thrusting your phone into the air.


By switching between your favourite layers, you won’t be swamped with irrelevant results all over your screen, something some (paid) apps haven’t cracked yet. There have been reports the current version is buggy, though it worked fine on my iPhone 4 (3GS is a minimum requirement).

SnapShop Showroom [No Longer Available]

augmented reality applications

Do you ever have trouble deciding on furniture? Is it partly because you’re in IKEA IKEA Fans: Get Assembly Instructions For IKEA Furniture Online Read More and not your own living room? Well now you can check before you leave the house with SnapShop Showroom, an AR app designed to make buying furniture less of a whim.

Simply download, launch and choose a room. Choose your item of furniture and line it up as best you can with the image shown on your camera. Happy? Snap the shot and take a good look.


You can make further alterations to your shot by moving, scaling and rotating your furniture till you’re happy or persuaded otherwise. You can then buy the exact item you’re toying with from within the app (US customers only), or simply use it as a guide before hitting the shops.

WorkSnug Pro [No Longer Available]

augmented reality applications

Here’s a great concept – ever tried getting some work done in a noisy, unproductive city environment? Fancy some way of finding the best spots to work, grab a coffee and check Twitter? You need WorkSnug, now fully operational in 15 cities worldwide!

WorkSnug assembles reports from fellow mobile workers regarding the best spots for free wifi, a quiet workspace, access to power and the quality of the coffee (amongst others). Using AR you can see these local results in realtime through your iPhone’s camera.


If your city isn’t listed yet then hop on board, start visiting and rating ideal local workspaces and you’ll have a network of ideal workspaces in no time.

buUuk [No Longer Available]

augmented reality applications

If you live in, or plan to travel to Asia, Australia or certain parts of Africa then you’ll probably benefit from using buUuk. The app will find you food and drink in an incredible range of countries, including: Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Cambodia, New Zealand and everywhere in between.

Enter your criteria and results will be shown on-screen, via the wonders of AR. There are a vast number of categories to choose from, so whatever you fancy for dinner this app is bound to find something that suits.

On a slightly more serious note this one is probably quite useful if you have any specific dietary preferences (such as vegetarian food) or are strapped for cash (the app also highlights local offers 5 Ways to Make Use of Groupon Read More ).

AR Matrix [No Longer Available]

augmented reality iphone

This one has absolutely no genuine uses whatsoever. Simply put – this app allows you to turn everything you see into a Matrix-like stream of code and take pictures based on the results. Using one finger you can distort reality, or try pinching with two to alter the on-screen colours.

Whilst it’s not useful, it’s still a nice little tech demo of how your phone can process, manipulate and distort camera images on the fly.


There should hopefully be a couple of augmented reality iPhone apps here that have at least highlighted the usefulness of AR, and your phone’s ability to enhance the world around you. Despite many of the best AR apps costing money, at least with these few you can check out the fuss without spending a thing.

Have you made use of an AR app yet? Geeky fad or next big thing? Help us decide in the comments, below.

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  1. Eric Simmons
    August 6, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Turbcast is a great app for travelers.