Yelp Sneaks Augmented Reality Feature in iPhone App Through an Easter Egg


Yelp has sneaked in the Augmented Reality feature in the new version of their iPhone app, which was released a couple of days back.

The feature is exclusively available to iPhone 3GS owners and can be enabled through an Easter Egg.

If you look for the “What’s New” section for the iPhone app on the iPhone App Store, it lists the following changes:

  • Yelp Gets Thrifty – Find happy hours, BOGOs and other deals near you with our new Sales & Special Offers Nearby search
    Maps, Now With 100% More Moveableness – Drag, pinch and move our fancy new map-based search interface. You can move the maps on the business pages, too.
  • Yelp Talk – Join conversations with Yelper on topics ranging from 80s synth pop to where to find the best fried chicken in your city
  • Compliments and Voting – Like that review of Joe's Bar? Send the reviewer a compliment! Also vote for reviews as Useful, Funny and Cool, the Yelp signature kudos
  • Miscellaneous Awesome – Spelling suggestions in search, view web pages without leaving the app, speed improvements, and UI polish

However, there is no mention of the Augmented Reality feature, which can be enabled by shaking the iPhone three times.

After shaking the iPhone three times, you will get the following message “The Monocle has been activated” and a Monocle button will appear in the top-right corner.

When you tap the button, it launches iPhone’s camera with a cool overlay of business listings along with the star rating. The feature apparently makes use of the digital compass available in iPhone 3GS and GPS.

You can checkout the video of the cool augmented reality feature below:

Yelp has sneaked in the augmented reality feature by using an unpublished API that officially breaks iPhone’s SDK agreement.

The problem with using undocumented API is that the next firmware update could break the iPhone app if Apple decides to make some changes to the API.

It could also mean that Apple rejects or removes the iPhone App from the App Store thus forcing Yelp to remove the Easter egg from their iPhone app.

This is not the first time that an iPhone developer has used an Easter egg to enable something that Apple wouldn’t have approved. Developer of the iPhone app, Lyrics had also included an Easter egg, which allowed users to turn the profanity filter off so that they could view the objectionable and explicit lyric content.

As for the augmented reality feature, I have been waiting for it ever since Tonchidot demoed their iPhone app, Sekai Camera at TechCrunch50 last year.

We might not have to wait too long for such AR iPhone apps as it is expected that Apple will give developers access to the tools/APIs in iPhone OS 3.1.

Checkout the AR feature in Yelp’s iPhone app (direct iTunes link) and let us know if you liked it.

[via Wired]