This has been a big year for augmented reality, thanks in no small part to Apple throwing its weight behind the tech with ARKit. Thanks to the full support of the Apple platform, augmented reality apps exploded in quantity and quality this year. If you haven't had the opportunity to experience one for yourself, you are missing out. If you're not sure which apps are the ones worth your time, take a look at this short list of the best experiences you can find today!

Night Sky

Star Map apps have always held a special place in my heart, and augmented reality only improves that experience by letting you see through your phone into the night sky. This lets you easily identify constellations and stellar objects and satellites without taking your eye off the actual sky.

What makes this app in particular stand out is the added Grand Orrery feature. This gives you a look at our solar system and surrounding stars from a different perspective, and allows you to walk around to better see where everything lines up in the solar system.

This is not only a fantastic demonstration of what augmented reality can do to improve our experiences, it's a quality educational tool as well.

Mini Guns

One of the coolest things about augmented reality is the ability to turn an ordinary table into an actual tabletop game. The best example of this I've found so far is Mini Guns. It's a simple strategy game with a ton of variables, but one of the things that can quickly give you an advantage in this game is being able to quickly zoom in and out of different skirmishes on the map.

Instead of pinching and zooming, Mini Guns in AR mode lets you physically lean into and away from the table you are playing on. It makes an already great game that much more interactive, and keeps me playing for much longer than I probably should.

Warby Parker

The folks at Warby Parker are the undisputed champions at making it easy for you to try out some glasses before you buy them, and in the comfort of your own home no less. What could possibly be better than being able to put a couple pair of glasses on your face without going into the store? Never needing to wait for glasses to ship to you in the first place without knowing they'll actually fit your face.

The Warby Parker app now has an augmented reality layer that scans your face and measures the way glasses fit you in a realistic way. This gives you a genuine understanding of how these glasses will look on your face before you ever touch the frames yourself, solving one of the biggest challenges associated with shopping online.

An important caveat to this app is that it only works with the iPhone X, because the special camera sensors on the front of that iPhone makes scanning your face accurate enough to get your face measurements right.

Surreal

You can also use augmented reality apps to create larger than life scenes in your front yard, with things that would never actually be together. These augmented fantasies are a lot of fun, but the thing that really drives this kind of tech home for me is realism. For that, the folks behind the Surreal app have some great things to show you.

Surreal takes full advantage of lighting and shadow data to match your augmented fantasy to the real world. That means everything looks like it has the same light source, so this augmented objects feel a lot more realistic. Your photos become more fun, and everyone wins.

JigSpace

This is a 100% augmented reality app that does one thing very well. You can select anything out of a massive library of "jigs" and set that object in front of you. Using a step-by-step exploded view breakdown, JigSpace then shows you how that thing works. You can tap and see the inside of a door lock floating next to you on the couch, or walk around the outside of a life-sized trebuchet, and each will offer you a thorough breakdown of what makes that thing function.

It's not only incredibly educational, the app itself is very well made. JigSpace is simple to use, and there's a ton of fantastic "jigs" for you to explore.

Dubface

The internet is filled with silly pictures of people's faces being grafted onto other bodies for a good laugh. It turns out you don't really need fancy editing software to do this and have fun with it, you just need Dubface. This app grabs a nice 3D selfie and lets you stick it on a bunch of silly animated bodes that will wander around in the real world and do things worthy of a thousand photos.

This might be the best party app ever, because you can store many different faces though Dubface and use them to create epic or hilariously embarrassing scenes for everyone to enjoy.

This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for more details.