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. Aside from being awesome, AR is also one of the more polarizing categories of apps and games in Google Play. It seems like an app is either really good or really terrible. In this list, we’ll take a look at the best AR apps and games for Android.
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DoodleLens is a fun AR app. You doodle a thing on a piece of paper and snap a photo of it with this app. The app turns it into an AR sticker and you can pop into whatever photo you want. You also get a frame-by-frame animator, some light editing features, and various effects. It also saves drawings so you can remake the AR sticker later if you want to. It costs $1.99 but has no additional ads or advertisements.
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 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.
IKEA Place is one of the newer augmented reality apps. It lets you use measure a room with your camera and place objects digitally inside of it. This allows people to plan furniture placement, decorate rooms, and all kinds of other stuff. It’s a niche app, admittedly, but it’s a fun use of Google’s newer ARCore technology. Eventually, every app on this list will be ARCore apps anyway. In any case, the app has a few issues, but nothing overly serious. It just needs some optimizations and bug fixes. Otherwise, the app is free with no in-app purchases or advertisements that we could spot.
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. Otherwise, the app doesn’t do much. It’s a fun little app that helps show off more of Google’s ARCore technology. It’s completely free with no in-app purchases or ads.
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.
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.
OEM emoji features
Google, Samsung, and some other OEMs have native augmented reality experiences on many newer devices. Samsung has the AR Emoji. This lets you map your face onto an emoji and then generates a bunch of reaction GIFs with your face on it. Google’s implementation is a little better with its Playground and Playmoji that adds characters and various elements to its photography. These aren’t available as individual apps. However, they are available as part of the core experience of each device. For a while anyway, those who want the best AR experience will likely need to buy something like a Note 9 or a Pixel 3 XL for its AR features along with the stuff listed above.
If we missed any great augmented reality apps for Android, tell us about them in the comments!