5 helpful AR apps for non-gamers

In general, augmented reality is more accessible than its virtual counterpart. While virtual reality is great for fully immersive gaming experiences, augmented reality has more potential for real world application because it keeps users aware of their surroundings. Also, you don’t need to spend money on a fancy headset to experience AR! The following iOS apps prove how helpful augmented reality can be in day-to-day life:

Google Translate

You’ve probably used Google Translate to help with Spanish homework, or to figure out which bathroom is which in an overly authentic French restaurant. But what do you do when you don’t have time to type in an entire Italian menu or Dutch street sign? The Google Translate app has a cool AR feature that’s an absolute lifesaver in situations like this. Simply open the app, point your phone’s camera at said menu/sign/bathroom door, and the app will overlay foreign text with a translation. This type of augmented reality makes traveling a lot less scary—plus, the instant translation can help you learn bits and pieces of the language.


Wikitude is a location-based AR browser, making it another great app for traveling. Use Wikitude to scan your surroundings for info like restaurant reviews, the history behind an old building, and geo-tagged social media posts. Not only that, but Wikitude can scan magazines and newspapers to access supplementary content, like videos and “buy now” buttons. Wikitude also makes Wikitude Studio, a platform for anyone to design their own AR apps for iOS, Android, and wearable tech.


Anyone who has considered getting a tattoo knows the struggle: you really want it! But it’s going to be there forever—what if the design doesn’t look as cool on skin as it does on paper? Inkhunter uses AR to give you an idea of what that “I ♥ Mom” tat will actually look like on your bicep. First, upload your design, use the app’s text feature, or choose from a gallery of artists’ designs (some cost money). The app will ask you to draw a “square smiley face” (I_I) on the desired area to configure its placement. After the face is detected, you should have a pretty good idea whether the ink is worth it. Here’s my trial—disregard my actual tattoo:

   (I think I’m gonna go through with it.)

(I think I’m gonna go through with it.)
Hyundai Virtual Guide

Stashing your owner’s manual in a glove compartment is way passé. The car manual of the future lives in your phone! Hyundai’s app uses AR to label the parts of your vehicle and provide how-to information, which could be helpful in troubleshooting and fixing car problems yourself. The app can also scan parts of the vehicle for 3D overlays and provides tutorial videos and how-to-guides. So far, the app only works with newer Hyundai models, but the possibilities it brings for car maintenance are huge.

SnapShop Showroom

SnapShop is just one example of AR revolutionizing design, particularly interior design. It’s easy to fall in love with a funky Swedish coffee table, but there’s no way to really picture how it will work in a space. SnapShop lets you select furniture from stores like Ikea to “move” into your living room and see how it fits. Once the piece is placed, you can scroll through different models and colors. Finally, the app has a convenient in-app shopping cart button for browsing retailer’s websites. SnapShop is a great download whether you’re an aspiring HGTV star or just trying to redecorate!

These are just a few examples of augmented reality’s capabilities. We’re expecting plenty more from AR in the future!

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