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Layar Reality Browser
By Layar BV
Augmented reality sounds like something out of Avatar. But really it's a cool, visual way to get info on your smartphone.
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Newer-generation iPhones and Android devices are capable of a technology called augmented reality (AR). It’s the process of using the device’s camera to show something on the screen and laying information over what’s being shown there. In the case of Layar Reality Browser, augmented reality is used to give information about locations in your area — hold up your device so the camera is facing a restaurant, for example, and Layar tells you about it. The app works by downloading additional “layers” created by third parties. For example, get the Groupon layer and Layar shows establishments all around you where you can use Groupon coupons.
When it works, Layar is very cool. Walk around your neighborhood with a layer enabled, like one that shows restaurants, and you can actually see your different options and their locations and distances right on your phone’s screen. The only trouble is that Layar is a bit twitchy, crashing frequently when switching between the AR view and the map view of locations, for example. Another issue is that there are lots of layers that are hyperspecific, like being useful only for neighborhoods in Chicago. Finding useful layers can be tough, but with more stability and the right layers, Layar is very useful and extremely cool.
Reviewed: May 23, 2011 | Phil HornshawAlso featured on: 5 Cool Augmented-Reality Apps