Windows Phone 8 is off to a shaky start, but one of the points that can make the Lumia series a hit is its navigational edge over iOS. Not only does WP8 sport Nokia’s own transport and map apps, there is also the rather new LiveSight technology, which was used by the initially Nokia-exclusive City Lens. City Lens adds augmented reality to normal maps, making it a lot easier to find places in an unfamiliar environment. While there can be no denying the fact that Google Maps have far more detailed map data than any competing service, even they lack the convenience and magic of LiveSight. Well, not anymore. Thanks to AR-MAPS, you can now have augmented reality for maps on your iPhone. The app works with both Apple and Google Maps, and offers deep integration with Foursquare.
The main screen of the app is split into two views. The bottom part shows the map of your area, while the top half shows whatever the device’s camera can see.
Markers for nearby places are overlaid on the camera view. These markers give users a fair idea of the direction in which each point of interest lies, while the distance to each is displayed as well. The app allows users to scroll through the map view freely; the AR markers adjust themselves automatically to match changes in direction.
You can use AR-MAPS like an ordinary maps app as well, by holding your device in landscape mode or toggling off “camera display mode”. If you are on iOS 6, you can switch between Apple and Google maps from the Settings area, but older iDevices only have access to GMaps. From the same settings screen, default distance units and location can be selected.
Rather than randomly waving your phone around to look for a particular place, you can use the powerful search feature offered by AR-MAPS. However, before you can search for a place, the app will ask you to choose the service you want to use for spotting POI. The available options are Google Places and Foursquare, with Yelp integration offered for eating places.
You can get directions to all the places listed in AR-MAPS by hitting the “Transfer” button. These directions are available for walking, driving and public transport.
The interface of AR-MAPS is nothing to write home about, but the app can certainly hold its own against the likes of City Lens when it comes to features and functionality. If you are on iOS 6 and stuck with Apple Maps, this universal app is highly recommended, especially since it is available for free in the App Store.