The dazzling new trend of "augmented reality" mobile applications, software that puts layers of information on top of a mobile device's camera viewer, is something that's left iPhone owners feeling out of luck. Now one company developing such an app says Apple has said the technology required will be officially enabled in the next version of the iPhone OS - which is expected out in September.
Developers are able to access the necessary controls in the phone illicitly, but when Apple offers a stable and official Application Programming Interface (API) for layering data over the camera viewer - that's going to be game changing. The particular app in question is a subway route finder that shows route signs when you point your phone one direction or another. The list of possibilities is long, though, so we hope this September date is for real.
The rumor was first unearthed on Friday by Mark Milian of the LA Times:
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.
The availability of the requisite official tech hooks in September remains for now a rumor. It's a little hard to imagine Apple telling one particular vendor about a major platform change, and it's a little hard to imagine a vendor genuinely trusted with that kind of information telling the LA Times about it. Anything is possible, though.
We've written extensively about Augmented Reality before. Here's our wishlist of apps we hope that someone builds. Cross your fingers, some of these crazy apps could be coming as early as this Fall.