I don’t think we’ve really gotten to the point where augmented reality (AR) is either a) pervasive or b) practical, however I think this clever AR map app from Japan might just be a step in the right direction.
I found this via Gizmodo and what the app does, as you can see from the screenshot, is let you see where you are on a map (like Google or Apple maps) while at the same time using your iPhone’s camera to give you more information.
For example you’re looking for a store or office. Normally you’d get directions from Maps and find your way there. If you have the iPhone orient you with the compass you can have a pretty good idea of where you are, where you need to go, and how far it is away. With AR-MAPS you see the normal map with the directions and look at the video with directional pointers and distance.
Smart and clever.
Best of all, the app is free in the app store.
From the App Store here is the description:
【Main features of AR Map】
・After specifying a destination, by simply holding up the iPhone the app shows you the direction to your destination!
・AR tags show the direction so you can navigate to your destination!
・Search for information on nearby cafes and restaurants!
・Easily send your current location or destination to friends by email!
・Navigate the route to your friend’s current location!
・Find information on nearby shops and hotels through a site like Hot Pepper or Jalan and set it as your destination!
・Confirm transfer instructions for public transportation on GoogleTransfer!
・Map can be selected from the standard app or GoogleMaps!
【Using AR Map smartly】
Save battery life by normally using map mode and temporarily switching to AR mode as needed. In addition, save even more battery life by diligently putting the app in the background.
【Services supporting nearby keyword searches】
The following services can be used to perform keyword searches of local information.
・Google Local Search：Address, station name, spot info, etc.
・foursquare：Local spot info, etc.
・yelp ：Restaurants, cafes, etc.
I found the YouTube video describing the app a tad hard to follow, but it did try to explain the app pretty well. It’s worth noting that this is the first English language release and I found a few things hadn’t be translated yet. The app also isn’t, I think, completely polished. It works, it didn’t crash when I was testing it, and I think with a little time I could figure it out.
Would I use it all the time? Probably not. Would I fire it up to see where the heck I am in relation to where I want to be? Oh heck yeah. Not to mention the cool factor.
I took the app for a spin near my house so you could see how it worked in reality:
Not bad, it certainly told me where all the Starbucks in the area are (well most)! Do take a moment to watch the clip from the company to get a better idea of the app and its plans: