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Yelp iPhone Easter Egg Beats Apple to the Mobile Augmented Reality Punch

I have been eagerly awaiting the release of the iPhone 3.1 operating system because it promised to have to first built in mobile augmented reality functionality. It seems that Yelp beat them to the punch by embedding an Easter Egg in their iPhone application. Here is how you access it:

1. You have to have an iPhone 3GS because the application needs the compass to know which way it is pointing.

2. Download and launch the Yelp application

3. Give the phone a few good shakes until you see a dialog box that appear and tells you ‘Monacle’ has been activated.

4. Press the ‘Monacle’ button that now appears in the upper right corner of the application.

Once launched the application will turn on your camera and displays a red circle in the upper right hand corner that shows attractions near you.  You have to face the direction of the attraction for the item to appear and it’s size is based on how far away it is from your current location.

I think this clearly once again will have Apple’s calling into question their application testing methods as the Yelp application got the jump on what they intended to launch. In this case I think that Yelp exploited the fact that Apple tests new applications on computer based emulators and not on actual phones which makes finding the accelerometer easter egg trigger hard to find.

All of that aside it is a very cool tease at what could be possible and I so happy to see augmented reality evolving beyond pop-up monsters and toys.

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