iPhone 3.1: Augmented Reality Apps are a Go!

The L.A. Times (via MacRumors) confirms what TiPb heard following the release of iPhone 3.1 Beta 2 -- public APIs for information overlay of live video will allow "augmented reality" apps to make their way into the App Store.

Apple told Acrossair, developer of the Nearest Tube train finder, that the app will be approved for distribution after Apple releases version 3.1 of the iPhone software, which the developer expects will land in early September.

This time frame, if accurate, will likely also coincide with Apple's traditional iPod and iTunes event, which for the last two years has seen the iPod touch center stage, and last year also introduced iPhone 2.1.

If a camera is integrated into the third generation iPod touch, as current rumors indicate, it would make for a fairly mind-blowing demo...

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iPhone 3.1: Augmented Reality Apps are a Go!

36 Comments

Augmented reality: imagine looking at the live camera preview with data layered heads-up on top of it like in the video above.
Hold the camera up to a hotel or person, location data and image detection tell you what/where/who it is, give you reminders (owes me $5!), room rates, etc.

I'm skeptical that face detection works that well. I think the NYC subway app in Macworld is more realistic, maybe.
I loved it when people said the compass was a useless feature on the 3gs. I thought it was the best and most important. It's what makes this a reality.

honestly doesn't think it will be as accurate.There are too many simple feats on the iPhone that need adjustment & improvements before this can wrk as efficiently.

Not completely useless. See this as a business card. Links to website, blog, whatever. As many iPhones that are floating around, it's sure to get some use.
Bu yea, iPhone does need some tweaks before it can awesome @only1

Who in their right mind would want to be "recognized" by anyone with a darn phone. Stalker Software indeed!
Where's my 3.1... Sick of the bugs, and the horrid battery issues that strike from time to time.

Did anyone notice that there was a forward facing camera in the demo.... Could it be for the demo or could they have just leaked info about the "iphone 3,1"?

azwillnj" Looks like just for demo but lets face it next yr it may well have one.......

Instead of updates that address shortcomings of the iPhones we get stuff like VoiceOver, a compass, and now augmented realities.
Thank you apple !

OMG... This is freaking insane! I can't wait for this, looks pretty cool. I swear with Apple the possibilities are endless.

It wasn't I forward facing cam. He was shooting himself in the mirror. Useful app to pick up chicks in a bar. Point cam find a bit about them and start a conversation.

Useful app to pick up chicks in a bar. Point cam find a bit about them and start a conversation.

Or get arrested.
Seriously, Rene is the only one who mentioned anything approximating facial recognition, and I took it as tongue in cheek.
The GPS and Compass can tell you are looking at Camden Yards, Rogers Center, or an Iowa Cornfield, but nobody has even hinted at facial reco software in any serious vein.

Somethin was up with the phones they were usin' did you see how the had them covered up like they were hiding somethin?

Is it doing that via GPS? If so, what's the big deal. Surely were not saying we can point the camera at any random object, and it knows where we are?

Frog: its just a fake. You can't facial reco like that.
Its a suckers video like all the preview fotos of the iPhone 3Gs.

I'm surprised by the negative comments on this. This is something never seen before in any device. I think it's quite impressive.
@Frog, yes it uses GPS & compass. Augmented reality is what shows you information about the object being focused on or the direction the camera is pointed in.

I don't think some of you understand the concept in the video. You can't just point your camera at any Joe Schmoe off the street and get info about him. He has to take a pic of himself, tell it what info to share & upload it to a database that your phone will search through to match his face with. IPhoto has the same facial recognition feature, this is totally possible.
But then again, I've gotten frustrated just trying to search for the right book by taking a pic of it with one of those useless apps. Can't imagine how many times it'll have people confused with one another. A front facing camera would almost be a necessity for this too.

@TRUTH - Apple HAS been addressing the shortcomings along with the cool, game-changing features. Name a single OS release that didn't have bugs, that's what updates are for. It's impossible to test for everything under every situation. Even more so when so many 3rd party apps are thrown in the mix. If all they did were bug fixes then it'd start looking like that always-empty Vista Ultimate Extras section in my windows update. All I got were dreamscenes that screw up my vnc & a dumb a** robot game. Neither of which made it into Windows 7 (at least not in RC1). I'm glad Apple keeps pushing forward, the grass is definitely greener on this side.

@truth
I totally agree. We'll have facial recognition programs but our wifi will keep disconnecting and we'll have to do phone restores to keep the battery from draining all the time.
You shouldn't put an addition on your house when the kitchen is on fire.

@ Mike M
So addressing the fact that as a smart phone we can only run one 3rd party app at a time is not an issue? How about having to exit an app just to respond to a text message? How about how stupid long it takes just to scroll down in mobile safari? No recent list under spotlight. No ability to search the web in spotlight? How about no built in twitter integration. 3g users can't use VoiceOver even though its practically all software? How about how cluttered the iPhone gets when you have a ton of apps. How about how Apple clamps down developers in their policies (no 3rd party browser? WTF)Hell there are about a hundred issues I can think of that would improve the iphone user experience but Apple will spend their time slingshotting bullsh it into ever users Mouths; parading around like they discovered the holy grail of phones. This technology has been around in Japan for years. This is nothing new. Just more gimmicks. Next year we will probably get a Karaoke app, Where is the applause?

Just to put my 'me too' cents in, most of the news I have been hearing about 3.1 has been about addressing problems (battery, performance), until this bit.

If you guys think this is cool, i suggest reading the book 'Rainbows End' by Vernor Vinge. It's a scifi book set a couple decades in the future in San Diego, CA. It takes the concept of augmented reality and digital overlays to its fullest potential. After reading the book and seeing all this new technology it seems clear to me that some version of the books future will come true.

@Truth - a lot of what you just listed is due to hardware limitations. Others are just plain whiney. I can nitpick the sh*t out of a blackberry too (or a pre...can't remember which one you represent). Apple didn't develop the app here, just added the ability to put overlays on the video. That isn't nearly as complicated nor as time consuming as you're making it out to be.
Are there features I wish for too? Absolutely. Do I hate how long it takes them to get them out? You bet. But I also understand hardware limitations, time constraints, and prioritizing innovation.

@Mike M
If everyone had your attitude no company would care about innovation. Many of the things I listed are things that could be easily implemented. BiteSMS for example allows me to quick reply in any app to messages I receive and perhaps you aren't too familiar with qtweeter.
Yeah hardware limitations...you really don't know what you are talking about.

@Truth - why does Apple have to add features that 3rd party apps already offer? What would be the point of selling the apps then? With all the problems the app store is already facing, they don't need to add Apple cannibalizing them to the list too. They already put the voice memo apps in a tough spot, how many more would it take for you to start b*tching about that too?
I never even implied that everything in your list was due to hardware limitations. Good job picking out a few that aren't. You're so clever.

I'd like to talk with anyone here as an Augmented Reality developer...
this is such a new field, a-ha? image the exciting Augmented Reality on an iphone/ipad/android....
you can send me email: info@zealion.com
I would like to discuss, share or offer the experience\ideas\skills about Augmented Reality iphone develop