French app development shop PresseLite appears to have the first Augmented Reality (AR) supporting iPhone app live in the iTunes store, though we don’t know how they did it. It’s called Metro Paris Subway, and while the app isn’t new, it released a new version last week that added an AR overlay that displays information about Paris businesses when you look at the city through your iPhone’s camera.
Augmented Reality is the term for a long-developed set of technologies that place layers of information on top of a view of the real world. Developers and AR-watchers have believed that no AR apps would be able to go live in the iTunes App Store until the next version of the iPhone OS is released in Fall. No one we’ve talked to has seen any others, but this one is for sale for 99 cents. It’s possible that it was allowed in by mistake, or that it’s a partial implementation of AR, but we’re waiting to hear back from the developers for more details.
We discovered a video of the app via Swedish blogger Magnus Aldemark. Augmented Reality is being tracked far more closely outside of the United States than within it, especially in Europe, Korea and Japan.
The AR capabilities only work on the new iPhone 3Gs; both GPS and a compass are used to determine location and direction being pointed at.
AR for the iPhone is eagerly awaited by iPhone users around the world. There are several AR apps available for Android handsets already. We wrote at length yesterday about five key obstacles that Augmented Reality faces in becoming mainstream. Its time appears to be coming, though.