Augmented Reality (AR) can be fun technology to play with. The basic premise of AR is to overlay digital content on top of real things using something like a map, a camera, or sometimes the sky. Unlike VR, it grew slowly in the background over the span of many years. There aren’t a ton of huge, great AR products yet, but the list grows slowly every year. AR has tons of potential applications and it’s only a matter of time before they become more rampant. Here are the best AR apps for Android
The best augmented reality apps for Android
Facebook made a lot of promises when it comes to augmented reality. Their app already has a little bit of that promise. When using Facebook Stories, you can use various AR filters to spruce up your photos. It’s very similar to Snapchat. Some of their augmented reality efforts also include the Camera Effects development platform, AR Studio, and others. It’s not the most powerful AR app out there. However, Facebook is going to do some fun stuff with AR in the future. Plus, Facebook Stories is pretty fun, even if it’s a blatant rip-off of Snapchat Stories.
Google Maps is one of the best uses of AR in an app so far. The app recently added Live View, a way to navigate with your camera viewfinder from the app. Maps then imposes information on the screen about businesses and directions as you walk or move down the road. It’s a super neat concept and excellent for directions in cities where you may not know all the street names. Plus, we can see this technology improving over time to work even better than it does now.
See also: How to use Google Maps offline
Google Translate is arguably the best translator app out there. It supports a ton of languages. You can translate back and forth between virtually any of them. You can even have it translate in real time so you can have conversations with people. The augmented reality part of the app lets you point your camera at text from another language. The app then translates it in real time. This can help you do things like read street signs or menus. Like the barcode scanner above, this is one of those super handy AR apps that a lot of people install. Microsoft Translator has a lot of the same features as well.
Inkhunter is one of the more unique AR apps. What it does is let you check out what tattoos will look like on your body before you get it. You draw a few lines on your body. From there, point the camera at those lines and the app automatically puts the tattoo there. It won’t work for super complicated or large works, but those looking for something manageable can expect reasonably good results from this app. There is also a photo editor just in case you want to mess with the design more. It’s pretty good.
See also: The best tattoo design apps for Android
Just a Line
Just a Line is another ARCore app from Google’s Creative Lab. It lets you draw things in an augmented reality space. They stay in that space where you drew them. Thus, you can draw a line and then walk around that line if you want to. Of course, this all takes place with your mobile camera. You can also record what you draw and share it with others. It’s completely free to play with and it’s a neat showcase of what a good AR experience can be. Unfortunately, Google hasn’t updated this in over a year and that means bugs aren’t getting fixed. We’ll likely replace this one on the next update if this doesn’t get any love.
Sketchfab is an entertaining AR app. It’s a 3D modeling app with millions of 3D models. You can view them in VR, AR, or just in the app itself. There isn’t much functionality for an app like this. It’s mostly for entertainment value. You can use your camera viewfinder to look at a thing and then add models from Sketchfab into the frame and take pictures. Again, it’s not really functional, just entertaining. Plus, the app is free and it’s a good use of AR to show people.
Sky Map is one of the oldest AR apps out there. It was originally developed by Google. You turn it on and the phone displays a star map. You hold your phone up to the sky. The display will show the stars in the sky right above it. You can use it to find constellations, It’s a little tough to calibrate at first, but it’s reasonably accurate once you figure it out. It’s fun for entertainment, especially when you’re enjoying the great outdoors. It’s totally free with no in-app purchases.
Snapchat is one of the most popular messaging platforms out there. You connect with a person on the app and then you can send pictures and video of whatever you’re doing. The app has a variety of special filters that you can augment right on top of your face. It can look like you’re a dog or a cat or whatever else Snapchat happens to have available on any given day. It’s some really basic augmented reality, but it works shockingly well. The app is a battery hog and not overly optimized. However, it’s still fun to use.
See also: The best apps like Snapchat for Android
Price: Free / $2.99
Star Chart is a lot like Sky Map. You can use it to view the stars in the sky. It can help locate things like constellations, planets, and other celestial bodies. It boasts the ability to show around 120,000 stars and planets in total. On top of being able to view them from your current location, you can also travel within the app to take a closer look at anything that may interest you. It’s an excellent educational app that is also fun to use. It’s not 100% accurate all the time, but it’s usually close enough to give you an idea of where to look.
TikTok is on this list for the same reason Facebook and Snapchat are. The company has an augmented reality platform where developers can build out AR experiences for users to play with. The news was announced in August 2021 so there aren’t a ton of examples at the time of this writing. However, as the platform expands, more and more AR effects should become available in the TikTok Effect Studio for creators. Social media has long been one of the biggest driving forces for AR and I guess TikTok is contributing to that. Given what we’ve seen from Facebook and Snapchat, the results could be very interesting.
If we missed any great augmented reality apps for Android, tell us about them in the comments! You can also click here to check out our latest Android app and game lists!
Thank you for reading! Try these out too: