When mobile augmented reality experiences started popping up on smartphones in the last year, the majority of the apps helped people find businesses and other points-of-interest. Now as the social Web becomes increasingly mobile, the data it provides is more likely to contain location information. Foursquare and Gowalla are obvious examples of the growing social location trend, but even Twitter and YouTube can now link tweets and videos to a specific location. Today I had the opportunity to chat with Chetan Damani, CEO of acrossair, makers of several AR apps for the iPhone, about the trends his company is seeing in mobile AR.
Since its launch in January, the acrossair browser has seen 276,000 downloads and averages 10,800 unique users per day. The majority of the users come from the U.S. and the U.K. where the company is based, though there is dense usage all across Europe.
Over 500,000 feed requests are made each month for the various content layers on acrossair, and it is from this data that the company sees some interesting trends. The far-and-away favorite content feed on acrossair is Twitter. According to data provided by Damani, the Twitter content feed sees over 112,000 requests per month via the acrossair browser – the largest single feed in the app. Google search categories, which are broken into 16 separate feeds on the app, do total close to a quarter of a million requests, however.
Damani says when the application first launched, the most popular feeds helped people find nearby restaurants. Today, however, the company is tracking its social feeds among the most popular on the service. Damani believes this is a natural progression of users who are growing more used to the application and augmented reality as a whole.
The Web was once a massive directory that eventually transformed into a platform for social sharing, and mobile augmented reality seems to be following a similar evolution. Among other popular social feeds on acrossair are Panoramio photos, YouTube videos and Wikipedia Articles.
Damani adds that the browser is continuing to add more social services to its offerings. Just recently the app began featuring geotagged eBay listings with car listing being the most searched category. Soon, he says, the browser will feature Foursquare integration which can be used to both find and checkin at nearby locations.
While these features aren’t groundbreaking (Foursquare functionality has been available on the Layar browser for quite some time now), it does signal a growing shift in mobile AR that is become increasingly social. Using an augmented reality browser, a solitary experience by nature, is slowly becoming a way to interact with the social Web. With more popular networks like Facebook planning to add location data, social mobile AR is likely to keep growing in the coming months.