Name That App: Junaio 2.0

**As published at DIGIDAY:DAILY** Publisher: Metaio Inc. Price: Free Platform: iOS Advertising: None Functionality: B- Fun Factor: B- Overall: C+ Augmented reality isn’t going to win over many mobile fans based on the real-world applications I’ve experienced thus far. The technology – which overlays computer-generated images and text on real-world objects visible through a phone’s camera – sounds like something practically every smartphone user would enjoy. But in reality, the practical applications of augmented reality today leaves far too much to be desired. I’d even argue that it’s losing some of the “buzz” and appeal as a result of its lackluster start in mobile.

Junaio 2.0 is the second augmented reality app I’ve reviewed for this weekly column, and unfortunately, I’m coming to many of the same conclusions I did with GetFugu back in March. The problem with these augmented reality apps doesn’t appear to be on the technology or physical side, since many of today’s smart phones possess the tools and processing power to get the job done. What Junaio is lacking is content. This is particularly discouraging, considering how much professional and user-generated content is at our fingertips today. I hoped it would be different with this app. Users are allowed to subscribe to channels that present content as an augmented reality overlay. The problem is there aren’t too many channels. After searching through the entire channel lineup available, I subscribed to nearby events from Eventful, WikiCity Guides, nearby tweets, Foursquare tips, Flickr images and YouTube videos. Unfortunately, this is about as good as it gets. After narrowing the detection radius to within 1 mile of my home, the app presented no more than 50 items in my full 360-degree view. That might be OK if I lived in a village, but I’m right in the middle of the fifth-largest city in California (and the 36th-largest city in the country). Needless to say, there’s enough Flickr, Twitter and YouTube activity going on within a quarter mile of my pad to overwhelm my augmented reality senses. But I am underwhelmed. The coolest thing I discovered on Junaio was a YouTube clip of Huell Howser touring the oil islands that I can see from right outside my place. Interesting, sure, and who doesn’t like Huell? But trust me, if that was the most exciting thing Long Beach had to offer, I wouldn’t be here. So far, augmented reality has only made my world seem more dull at every turn, and if anything, it should be doing the exact opposite.

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