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Yelp Update Brings Augmented Reality As an Easter Egg

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bender_monocleYesterday, we looked at Paris Metro, supposedly the first augmented reality app officially available for the iPhone. Today, Robert Scoble uncovered an Easter egg that looks like it may grant that title to Yelp, which got a version update earlier this week that carried a nice surprise: an AR mode dubbed “Monocle.”

Yelp is one of the App Store’s early successes. It offers crowdsourced locations and reviews of restaurants, bars, and other points of interests for tourists and leisure seekers. As such, it’s the perfect app for AR, which in this case consists of location names and ratings overlaid on a live feed from your iPhone’s (3GS only) camera.

Since it’s an Easter egg and not an advertised feature, activating Monocle mode requires an extra step beyond just downloading and opening the free app. Specifically, you have to shake your 3GS three times in succession with the app open. Mine worked on the first try, but I’m sure just shaking it until it works will open up the option eventually.

yelp_arIn my extremely brief, extremely office-based test, the app appears to work perfectly, so long as my sense of direction isn’t terribly off. As you can see from my screenshot, many culinary delights lie in the general direction of my iMac. I’ll be doing some more involved tests later this evening to see what kind of effect Monocle mode has on my battery life, but I can’t imagine it’s very energy efficient.

It’s unclear whether or not Apple (s aapl) was aware of this feature when it let this update through, so grab it now while you still can. If it gets pulled, let us know so we can be collectively indignant.

8 Responses to “Yelp Update Brings Augmented Reality As an Easter Egg”

  1. My best guess as to why the kept this as a hidden feature isn’t because they thought Apple wouldn’t approve, as I’ve seen some speculate elsewhere, but perhaps because it’s a 3GS-only feature, and in my experience a little bit slow and beta-like. Releasing it like this is a good way to create buzz on the ‘net, and get people using it and voicing their opinions on it without having to advertise it as a feature.

    That said, I love it and I’m glad that the first app in the US store to use it was Yelp. It’s a perfect fit. It’s a bit wonky for me, with the places either taking a while to load, or mysteriously vanishing, and in my limited testing so far, I’ve found that the restaurants near my job were showing up in the exact opposite direction as the one I was facing. However, I’m on the 19th floor of an office building filled with computer equipment. I don’t even necessarily get cell service at times, much less a proper GPS signal, so for now I’ll chalk it up to that until I get a chance to try it out some more.