With all the hooplah about the iPhone 3G S–its faster speeds, its better camera, copy & paste etc.–it’s pretty clear that the biggest change was one of the least remarked upon: The compass. Armed with directional awareness and location-awareness thanks to the GPS, the new iPhone opens to door to what’s sure to be the newest, most exciting trend in phones: Augmented reality apps, which can promise a new era when our phones provide a real-time feed on where to find whatever you like, as near as possible, from restaurants to jobs.
One of the very first to be developed is already pretty damn impressive. Check out Nearest Tube, which uses the camera screen to display information about how far away the nearest stop on the London tube is:
The app is still pending approval for the app store, but it should be out soon enough.
Of course, Nearest Tube isn’t the first augmented reality app for a phone–That honor goes to Layar, which got the jump thanks to the fact that two Android phones, the G1 and the HTC Magic, had a compass before the iPhone did: