Last month Nintendo started a closed beta program for Pokémon GO, the augmented reality catch-em-all game that the company has been working on with Niantic. It looks like we're very close to a public release, at least according to Nintendo's presentation at the massive E3 gaming convention. As reported by Polygon, Nintendo announced that the game will be released on smartphones sometime in July.
If you're old enough to have been around for the coolest parts of the 20th century, you know Duck Hunt. I don't need to explain this, do I? No. You know all about the bright orange gun and that annoying little dog and getting frustrated and walking right up to the screen and shooting an 8-bit duck point blank in the pixel. This is your childhood. And now, it's on your phone in a fantastic clone that utilizes the gyroscope in the best possible way.
Ignoring for just a moment the silly AR mode (which actually didn't work very well when I tried it), Duck Retro Hunt has one advantage over the myriad of Duck Hunt clones on the Play Store: instead of using a touch screen, you have to aim your phone in a gyroscope-powered virtual world to shoot the little birds.
NASA is kind of awesome. In case you live under some red rocks, the organization sent this crazy robot to Mars that sends us back high-resolution photos. The future is amazing. Of course, there's nothing the space administration loves more than curiosity (which is why they named the Mars rover after it), and it's aiming to fuel yours with this 3D model explorer.
In a somewhat odd move, instead of simply providing the 3D models themselves, the app requires you to print out some markers. Then, as you've seen in other AR apps, you point your camera at the page and the model appears.
I'm going to be up front: I want Glass. I'm thoroughly intrigued with the idea, I love the possibility of having an always-available camera that sees whatever I see, and completely hands-free Google sounds like a perfectly natural progression of the things like Google Now and voice actions. In the world where personal digital assistants seem commonplace, why should we not expect those things to be always accessible and visible?
Well, apparently there are a lot of reasons. And don't get me wrong. There are many legitimate causes to be skeptical. As is typical of the tech community, however, some things people have focused on are completely silly.
Just like its collection of new apps, the Play Store made a strong showing in the game department last month. From Ingress to Clay Jam, there were plenty of great new games to choose from in November. With games, as with apps, there are often too many to download and try each one. To that end, we've rounded up the top seven games every Android gamer will want to take a look at from November 2012.
Ingress was and is a big deal. A cursory search for "Ingress" on Google+ will reveal huge demand for the game (since it's a closed beta), and some impressive enthusiasm, and it's this community's hype that makes the game great.
Amazon-owned development house A9 Innovations has released a product search app built on the idea that instead of tapping buttons to take pictures of products, you'd rather just point your camera at products. Probably not a bad notion! Not exactly the most important thing to spend a bunch of money and time developing, but hey, if you can just wave your phone in front of a movie and get pricing and review information, it's gotta be worth it, right?
Well, it would be, if it worked like that. Unfortunately, in practice the augmented reality app has some trouble recognizing cover art.
Announced last month at SXSW, Marvel's Augmented Reality app has finally hit Google's play store, promising to "bring the Marvel Universe to life like never before utilizing your Android powered device."
Essentially the app allows users to scan select Marvel products (which feature the AR logo) to unlock and view exclusive Marvel content. The app unlocks a surprisingly wide array of content, from 3D shorts to script excerpts, exclusive art and commentaries, and "key features on select comics."
The app's augmented reality functionality is powered by Aurasma, the self-proclaimed first visual browser, "bringing the physical and virtual worlds together." For fans of the Marvel Universe, this app seems like an awesome way to get an extra dose of Marvel content.
You've got to hand it to Google. They don't let silly things like "feasibility" and "finances" get in the way of an awesome idea. The New York Times is reporting that Google is working on a set of glasses with the specs of a smartphone, including 3G and 4G data connectivity, GPS, a camera, and oh yeah, a heads-up display.
Not the actual display. We wish, though.
The glasses, which are supposedly under development at Google's not-so-secret Google X lab, would cost about as much as a smartphone, so they likely won't be for the light wallet. That being said, if they work as advertised, they could still sell plenty.
Augmented reality has spent years in the "great idea, not quite there yet" bin, right next to motion controlled TVs and self-driving cars. Of course, what's the best way to improve a fledgling technology? Stick a trigger on it and let people shoot things with it. The Xappr is here to bring that essential step to the evolution of AR technology.
The Xappr gun, developed by game studio MetalCompass, is an attachment for your phone designed for first-person shooter games. Games like ATK, also developed by MetalCompass. This "social real-world" game allows players to engage in virtual shootouts with each other in real life.
Let's be honest: the Parrot AR.Drone is awesome. It's an awesome idea, it's an awesome design, and we had super high hopes for it. Unfortunately, one huge, massive, undeniable flaw means this bird will spend most of its life on the ground: battery life. It's that bad.
But before I, admittedly sadly, twist that dagger into the heart of this toy, let's go over what it does well - and why we're optimistic about Parrot's future smartphone-controlled vehicles. (Hint: mostly because this thing is so. Much. Fun.)
Parrot's AR.Drone is a product we've covered in the past, even before its app was available for Android.