Augmented Reality Comes to iPhone 3GS

Finally, the iPhone 3GS digital compass is getting a workout. Software developer acrossair has submitted the first augmented reality application to the Apple AppStore for approval. The app is called Nearest Tube, and will help Londoners plan routes and find the closest underground station. What's unique about this process is how the app delivers information.

Instead of a static map, Nearest Tube displays subway information in real-time, overlaid in 3D on top of live video of the user's surroundings. Holding the iPhone 3GS horizontal will show arrows pointing to different train stops, and tilting the device upwards will overlay signs in the direction of different stops. These signs look like a heads-up-display, and give more information about how far away the station is and what lines connect there.

New York and San Francisco will be the first US cities to be supported by the company. The app will cost $1.79 for each city.

acrossair is currently looking for beta testers of their Nearest Transport apps for the following cities: New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington DC, Paris, Tokyo, Berlin, Madrid, and Barcelona.

The buzz around augmented reality apps on the iPhone 3GS is not new. When the device was rumored to combine its Internet capabilities with a camera, digital compass, and GPS, speculation was rampant that a new age of iPhone apps would be born.

Even though it looks impressive, time will tell if iPhone 3GS owners find the Nearest Tube app useful or just a gimmick.