7 Best AR (Augmented Reality) iPhone Apps

By | January 12, 2022

The iPhone has impressive augmented reality capabilities. Here are the best free AR apps that you should try.

Augmented reality (AR) came to our handheld with the soft sound of a smartphone when it was new. Early AR implementations were interesting but notoriously problematic. This has led many to write technology as a gimmick rather than a serious tool for work and play.

When Apple announced ARKit, with significant changes. AR is no longer a gimmick but a powerful tool that looks and feels natural.

Let’s take a look at what ARKit is and then move on to our favorite examples of the best AR apps currently available on the iPhone App Store.

What is ARKit and Which Devices Support It

AR stands for Augmented Reality, which in simple terms, is a 3D environment created by combining real-life elements and virtual content. You can add virtual content to the real world around you for stunning scenarios.

There are many AR applications in the real world that you can see.

ARKit is Apple’s AR platform on iOS devices. This allows app developers to integrate AR into their apps. If you’re a user, that has nothing to do with you, except knowing that ARKit is the reason why fantastic AR apps are on the App Store.

You can download all the apps mentioned below, provided you have an iPhone 6S or later. The newer your device, the better performance you can expect.

Here are all the best free AR apps and games for iPhone…

IKEA Place

Ever wanted to try the furniture in your room before buying it? Now you can, with IKEA Place. The app features hundreds of Swedish furniture and decor, which you can place virtually around you to see how they look.

IKEA promises an accurate impression of the size, design and functionality of your chosen item. It might be worth taking visualizations with a grain of salt, but it’s an excellent tool for building virtual spaces that you can then turn into digital shopping lists.

The app is constantly adding more and more products, and whether you end up buying an item from IKEA or not, it’s worth trying out the furniture to estimate sizes and find out if one fits your interior.

Download: IKEA Place for iOS (Free)

Civilizations AR

Stroll and experience ancient Egyptian mummies, famous works of art by Bellini and Turner, Roman helmets, and the Rosetta Stone, among other exhibits. The artifacts are highly detailed, and you can move them around, make them larger, and see their real-world size with the tap of a button.

Not only is the subject matter interesting, but it’s also a great example of how AR can take us to different places and allow us to experience them just as if we were in the same room.

If you want to dig a little deeper, there are plenty of sites that make history come alive, like the Civilizations AR app

Download: Civilizations AR for iOS (Free)

TapMeasure

ARKit is very accurate, but does it work as a virtual tape measure? That’s exactly what TapMeasure is trying to do. This app is a virtual meter, 3D room builder and spirit level all in one.

Want to redesign your home? You can create a 3D blueprint of your room with accurate measurements to save and review whenever you want. Share your 3D models with interior designers or architects and make the whole process efficient and easy.

You can use it to tell if a piece of furniture will fit into your room without having to move it or if the frame on your wall is hanging accurately.

Download: TapMeasure for iOS (Free)

AR Sketch

This application really makes it easy for you to draw and sketch in the easiest way. All you have to do is point your iPhone camera at your drawing board or surface and trace the virtual outline the app creates for you.

Moreover, it allows you to turn your images into unique illustrations instantly. You can also play some fun games or choose from various courses that will help you learn how to draw portraits, cartoons, graffiti, and more. There are lots of other fun tools you can try in the app to help your creative side develop.

The app has a three day free trial after which you have to subscribe to a monthly or yearly plan of your choice.

Download: Sketch AR for iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

Giphy World

If you’re obsessed with GIFs, this is for you. GIPHY is the best place to find GIFs, and now they have an AR app that lets you change the world around you with GIFs and stickers.

Search for your favorite ones, select them, and place them in the space around you with one tap.

Want to show your friends? You can also record videos you have created or share links. If you don’t like anything from a pre-existing collection, don’t worry. You can use Giphy World’s drawing tools and create your own stickers too.

Download: Giphy World for iOS (Free)

Big Bang AR

This app has taken augmented reality to a whole new level by visually depicting what the Big Bang really looked like. How cool is that?

CERN scientists and Google Arts and Culture collaborate to gather factual research and create a world around you where you can watch the creation of space, time and the universe unfold in real time.

Note that this app requires some of your battery to function, along with access to your location, your camera, and your gallery to allow you to take selfies with the stars around you and upload them to your camera roll. However, it states that your personal information will always be protected.

Download: Big Bang AR for iOS (Free)

Night Sky

Why go to a planetarium when you can get a planetarium to come to you? Lie on the grass, point your iPhone at the night sky, and identify all the constellations, stars, and planets above you. You can even find the International Space Station!

You can get notified when a Starlink satellite will fly over you. The Maps feature helps you locate specific objects in the sky and navigate you through space. Then test your knowledge with their quiz to see how much you’ve learned.

Night Sky also works with Siri, if you like shortcuts. Don’t know what something is? Point your camera at him and ask, “Hey Siri, what star is that?” and get your answer.

This app has some otherworldly features that you should definitely try.

Download: Night Sky for iOS (Free, subscription available)

The Rise of Augmented Reality

ARKit is proof that a seemingly passing fad can always benefit from the support and standardization that a company like Apple can provide. And if this AR talk sounds familiar, remember that augmented reality and virtual reality are different.

As AR grows in popularity, more and more ARKit apps are popping up on the App Store. Whether you want to get your house ready, study astronomy, or play games in AR, even augmented reality games for kids everything is available to you now.

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