20th Jun 2011 | 12:00
Layar is an attractive, free augmented reality app full of user-generated content
Compared to a lot of other free augmented reality apps, Layar is competently and attractively designed.
The way it augments data into the camera's view of the world is similar to Wikitude. You select a 'layer' to add to your camera and this will display the points of interest. The layers include accommodation, entertainment and lots more.
Some layers are paid-for, but most are free. In a similar vein to Wikitude, the layers are created by third parties and other uses, so this is a service that is heavily dependent on outside contributions.
On the whole, these layers seem better designed and more reliable than the 'worlds' of Wikitude. When browsing the 'layers' we found that most appeared to be only relevant to the US, where most of the Layar community is from. However when searching you can click the 'Nearby' tab to get results that apply to the area you're in.
Even in the relatively small city of Bath we found plenty of information, from local restaurants and pubs to events at the Bath Fringe Festival that was happening at the time. Points of interest are marked over the display.
Depending on the layer that you're using, the points can be accompanied by photographs, logos and links to extra information like websites and phone numbers. Some also include an option that uses Google Maps to give directions.
Layar isn't perfect, but the detail offered, coupled with a confident and well-designed interface, gives it a professional feel. Layar demonstrates how augmented reality can help us every day, and feels like the future of local information.
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