9 of the best augmented reality apps and games for iPhone and Android

Augment your smartphone fun with these AR diversions

Apple is making a big augmented reality push with iOS 11 and its new phones – especially the iPhone X – but you don't need a new handset to give AR a try.

Augmented reality apps, which pop digital images and content atop real footage or images, or combine real and virtual elements with ease, are already found on both iPhone and Android. Most of these apps are pretty simplistic, sure, but they offer a taste of what's coming down the pipeline with Apple's ARKit push and even Google's new ARCore software.

Want to give it a shot? Here are nine of the most amusing, helpful, and entertaining AR apps you can grab right now.

Google Translate (free)

Google's hugely useful app frankly feels a bit like magic in practice. Using your phone camera, it can read words and translate them on the fly right in front of you, even in real time. Just point the camera at some text, be it on a sign, package, or anything else, choose the language you're translating to and from, and see the visual trickery in action.

And you'll get even more accurate results if you snap a photo within the app, choose the text that's most important, and give Google a second to give you the text in your language. It's the perfect pocket companion for an international voyage.

Download Google Translate here: Android | iOS

Pokémon Go (free)

Not yet been bitten by the Pokémon Go bug? This mobile twist on Nintendo's juggernaut favourite sends you out and about on the hunt for virtual monsters in your city. Your real-world surroundings become the world map for the game, and it's populated with Pikachu, Charmander, and hundreds more familiar monsters (and Pidgey – loads of Pidgey).

Finding new Pokémon and competing in Raid Battles with other players can be a blast, and Pokémon Go is good fun for a while – at least until the grind takes over and the tedium eventually sets in.

Download Pokémon Go here: Android | iOS

inkHunter (free)

Planning to get tatted up – or conversely, trying to convince yourself not to make some huge mistake? Spare yourself the potential pain and expense and use inkHunter before you make any big commitments.

This ingenious freebie app lets you drop a digital tattoo design on to your body in real time, letting you see how it'll look on your skin. You can use existing designs or your own, and tweak them until you're happy. It could save you a laughable (or horrible) permanent fate.

Download inkHunter here: Android | iOS