Augemented reality was one of the most overused buzzwords of the year, but for the most part, the applications we saw weren’t really augmenting reality. Instead, like Layar and others, they take a phone’s camera picture, GPS coordinates and compass heading and provide users with an overlay of nearby sights and shops. For some apps – especially stargazing apps like Star Walk – this is fine, but for most use cases, it’s not really useful. Another type of augmented reality (AR) app that’s hot right now uses paper markers and replaces them with 3D animation on your phone’s screen – even Hallmark is getting in this business now, but it’s more of a gimmick than a useful application of AR. The real promise of AR reaches far beyond this, however.
As the year draws to an end, it’s hard not to look back and think about all the cool apps that I looked at over the last 12 months. I’ll talk a little bit about my favorite apps and biggest disappointments in other posts, but I also wanted to highlight some of the coolest apps and Web Services that I use all the time but that didn’t get a lot of mainstream (or even tech blog) coverage in the last year and that deserve another look.
Without further ado, here is my list for 2010.