THE GEAR • October 2016
Inspired by the Pokémon Go phenomenon to experience augmented reality (AR) for yourself? The Club asks resident techspert Derek Adams to recommend the apps worth downloading for your travels
Finding a local restaurant is easy with Wikitude (iOS and Android, free). Instead of scouring a titchy phone map, simply hold up your phone and move it across the horizon to highlight a multitude of places within easy walking distance. Tap on the floating icon of choice then hit ‘route me there’. That’s it – you’ll be sampling the cuisine before you know it.
Streetmuseum (iOS and Android, free) is great for history-loving London visitors. Point your phone at the city’s most famous buildings, streets and structures, and the app overlays an image of how the scene looked in days gone by, along with a short description. A Roman Londinium version is also available.
Flightradar24 (iOS and Android, £2.49) is geek heaven for planespotters, and a useful app for monitoring a friend or relative’s flight movements. To make the most of the AR features, hold up your phone to the sky and watch as the screen fills with icons relating to a raft of passenger jets. Tap on an individual plane’s icon and read all about it. The app also provides full stats on every civilian passenger plane currently in flight – including a map of its live flight path, current altitude, speed and estimated arrival time.
Google Translate (iOS and Android, free) is an ingenious way to communicate with people in a different language. Along with its remarkably accurate real-time audio translation, the app’s AR function uses your phone’s camera to translate printed text instantly into 29 languages – a brilliant tool for interpreting road signs, forms and instructions. What’s more, if you take a photo of the text it’ll provide even more accurate translations in up to 37 languages.
Star Walk (iOS, £2.29; Android, 99p) is one of the best augmented reality star-gazing apps on the market. By focusing your phone on the sky above, you can marvel as it displays all the stars visible to the naked eye and beyond – along with overlays of their constellation names and a tranche of fascinating astronomical particulars.
Lost in London and looking for the nearest Underground station? London Tube (iOS, 79p) is your new best friend. Launch the app, hold your phone in the air and all Tube stations within walking distance are displayed using the iPhone’s live camera view. It also works with London’s public bicycle hire network.