Seemingly moments after the first “real” augmented reality app hit Apple’s iTunes App Store, more have arrived. One is a London version similar to that first Parist Metro app, and another is from Yelp, the customer-driven business review portal. Both have snuck under Apple’s radar.
The chaps at Presselite emailed us about their London Bus app, designed to help people navigate the iconic, and amazingly extensive, London bus network. Much like the Paris Metro app, they snuck in an augmented reality layer in a recent update to the already existing app. Check out the demo video below:
It works pretty much as expected: There’s a through-cam augmented reality view showing points of interest nearer than 1km to your current location, and a compass-like navigation prompt. The app’s already in the app store, and Presselite is preparing to release an update to their separate London Tube app that adds similar AR functionality to help you work out the quickest way to a station on the world’s biggest and oldest underground subway.
It’s also been revealed that the new version of the iPhone app for Yelp has a hidden “easter egg” feature that is a whole new through-camera AR layer. You simply have to shake the phone three times to activate the feature, dubbed Monocle. It’s demoed here:
It’s quite handy, and ties in to some of the killer features of AR we’ve mentioned before, letting you see Yelp’s restaurant and bar (and other businesses) ratings near where you’re standing–perfect for tourists in a new city.
One interesting aspect of these bits of news stands out though: Apple’s communications to other official AR app developers, like Layar, have implied full AR apps won’t be approved until the new iPhone firmware is out, complete with AR-friendly code. These first AR apps are already out and working though, having arrived by stealth in the App Store. Has Apple not noticed? Is it still working out what to do? Will it ask developers to pull the apps until iPhone 3.1 is launched? That last idea does seem heavy-handed and perhaps far-fetched. But Apple’s app store management policies have been coming under heavy fire, and it wouldn’t be too out of line with the company’s earlier shenanigans. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen, and we can enjoy these first AR apps…which represent merely the first few flakes of the AR avalanche we fully expect to sweep over the iPhone soon.