14 of the Best Augmented Reality Apps for Android and iOS

Augmented reality apps, or AR apps, are a growing trend. Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore are both expanding the ways augmented reality can be used in the real world. More applications are also taking advantage of these features in new and interesting ways on both iOS and Android. These are some of the best augmented reality apps currently for iOS and Android.

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Google’s Translate app is one of the most useful applications of augmented reality technology so far. It can translate text in an image from one language to another, allowing you to read signs, packaging, and even memes in other languages. Just open the app, capture the text, and wait for the translation. It also includes more pedestrian translation tools, which are the best free tools available.

Available for: Android, iOS

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Night Sky on iOS and Star Walk on Android both offer a compelling AR experience for stargazing and astronomy. These apps use your current location and phone’s orientation to display a geographically accurate star map on your screen. In either app, this map can be layered on top of your surroundings through the augmented reality functionality. It’s an awesome tool for learning about the astronomical, which is both entertaining and educational.

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This Google-sponsored app lets you draw augmented reality doodles within your three-dimensional surroundings. You can even collaborate on drawings with other iOS and Android users. Hold down your finger and move your phone to draw a line in your surroundings.

Available for: Android, iOS.

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JigSpace supplies a variety of educational augmented reality animations, exploring the functionality of everything from car engines to locks. You can tour the solar system on your table top, with captions and explanations to guide your understanding.

Available for: iOS

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IKEA Place is one of the better-known AR apps. The app can download 3D models for IKEA furniture and place them in your own home. See size- and color-accurate representations of how that couch would look in your living room or if the side table would match the coffee table.

Available for: iOS, Android

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Measuring applications are all over app stores, and most of them are disappointing. magicplan is definitely the best available at the moment, although Apple’s forthcoming Measure seems poised to challenge it. It’s pitched at professionals, but all users can get benefit from it. Contractors and interior designers can attach the application to their professional measuring devices, allowing for the creation of extremely accurate floor plans.

Available for: Android, iOS

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Guide yourself from your current location to an arbitrary point on this map with this augmented reality compass. Select where you want to end up, and the heads-up display will guide you to your destination and ensure you don’t get totally lost.

Available for: Android

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We can’t yet print temporary tattoos from our inkjet printers. But INKHUNTER is here to save the day. Just draw a simple target on your body with a ballpoint pen, and you can project tattoo designs onto your skin. Grab images from INKHUNTER’s library of stock flash, or use your own designs. Adjust the tattoo and then capture to your photo stream to share with your friends or tattoo artist.

Available for: iOS, Android

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Snapchat isn’t having a great time. While it’s the #3 app on the iOS App Store, it also has two out of five stars. This is thanks to a despised redesign, which mangled user feeds to jam promoted content in their faces. However, the app is still one of the most popular photo-based social networks currently running. Snapchat’s AR features are incredibly effective, and things like the dog filter and face swap have become a meme in their own right. The redesign might be trash, but the augmented reality functionality is extremely impressive.

Available for: iOS, Android

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Like the GIPHY GIF app, GIPHY World is created to help you create fun videos and messages you can share with your friends. You place 3D models drawn from GIPHY’s library in the world around you, take a video, and then share with friends and followers. It’s a little cheesy, but it makes Snapchat-style fun outside the world of the messenger app.

Available for: iOS

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Sick of Snapchat? Get your AR fix with Holo, an app for placing animated three-dimensional models into your surroundings via augmented reality. There’s a huge gallery of content, most of it kinda silly. Create scenes and share them with your buddies through your favorite messaging platform.

Available for: Android, iOS

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Learn to draw with augmented reality! This recently-released app uses your camera to guide you through realistic sketches. Simply follow the instructions on screen, tracing the guidelines as you go. While the interface might require some careful positioning of phone and paper, the app is one of the most unique ways to explore AR’s application.

Available for: iOS, Android

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This three-dimensional coloring app turns colored pictures into animated figures. Download some of the free coloring pages from Quiver, print them out, and color them in. Then scan the pages to see your colored figure come to life. An awesome application for kids.

Available for: iOS, Android

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Arise is an augmented reality puzzle game that requires you to guide a small (and cute!) knight through a maze of optical illusions. To allow the knight to pass over various gaps, you must move around the three-dimensional puzzle space until segments line up from your point of view. This allows the knight to proceed across and on to the next gap. A relaxing, pleasant way to spend some time.

Available for: iOS, Android

Augmented reality is still finding its footing in the app world. We haven’t yet discovered the “killer app” for AR, but we’ve seen some cool experiments to this point. Games seem to be the most promising use so far, but few games use AR to do more than replicate a two-dimensional environment. As developers become more familiar with the technology, we expect to see more experimentation.

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