Android phones come equipped with a powerful camera but if you’re just using it to take photos and video, you’re missing out. There’s a ton of innovative apps that use your phone’s camera and viewfinder to assist you in ways that you never even knew were possible, everything from shopping, discovering new information, to just killing time. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to getting the most out of your Android camera phone, here’s a few applications that will open up a whole new world.
Serious stargazing used to require a telescope and a vacation to the mountains. Now all you need is a GPS enabled smartphone. Star Chart is a virtual window into space that provides a dynamic, real time map of stars and other heavenly bodies. Fire up the app and point your camera at any part of the sky, and you’ll see an accurate and crystal clear representation of the stars in that area, including beautiful artistic imaginings of 88 constellations. Star Chart gives you information about all the stars, planets, and constellations you see and lets you search for ones you already know. The best part is that it works day or night, indoors and outside. You can even point it straight down at the ground to see what the sky looks like on the other side of the world.
Not satisfied with just text and voice based searching, Google developed Google Goggles, a revolutionary app that lets you search by taking pictures. For example, if you were to take a picture of the Eiffel Tower, Google Goggles would recognize the landmark and provide you relevant information and webpages, just as if you had searched it in Google’s iconic search bar.
While Google Goggles’ image recognition technology is neat, text recognition is its strong suit. Google Goggles can convert a picture of a block of text into fully editable digital form and is especially good at automatically identifying phone numbers and email addresses, making it a great way to save business contacts without clogging up your wallet with cards. It can even translate foreign text into your chosen language, making it an invaluable resource if you’re traveling.
Barcode scanner apps are leading a revolution in consumer awareness, giving the average shopper access to an unprecedented amount of important product information. There are many, many free apps that have to ability to read QR codes (those funny black and white squares that seem to be popping up everywhere) and more traditional UPC codes (the ones found on price tags). I-nigma Barcode Scanner is one of the better free barcode scanners. Just take a picture of a code with your camera and it will instantly provide you with product reviews, customer ratings, and price comparisons with local and online shops so you can make more informed decisions when you shop.
Discover Hidden Artwork
Augmented reality, or AR, sounds like something out of a science fiction novel, but it’s a term that’s used to describe a growing social community that utilizes a smartphone’s built in camera and GPS capabilities. Augmented reality apps like Junaio and Layar allow users to “tag” locations on their GPS maps that other users can see, edit, and add to using their own phone’s viewfinder. A “tag” can be almost anything: a restaurant’s menu, a review of your favorite bar, etc. Some pioneering artists have ran with the idea of augmented reality, creating public art that can only be viewed with the help of a smartphone camera.
Play a Game: Spectrec, Droid Shooting
A select group of developers have recognized the potential that augmented reality might have on gaming. There are several games that already take advantage of this emerging technology. Droid Shooting is a first person shooter where you destroy killer androids (get it?) that move around within your real life surroundings. Spectrec lets you track down and capture virtual ghosts using your GPS system and camera viewfinder.
Augmented reality and other applications that combine GPS and your phone’s camera are a relatively new development that will continue to evolve as smartphones become more prevalent and sophisticated. The apps mentioned in this article are just the tip of the iceberg for an exciting new social community that you can experience using your Android smartphone.
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