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Augmented reality on iPhone: Secretly inside Yelp

Launching Yelp's "Monocle" Easter egg, found by shaking your phone three times, brings up overlaid restaurant and bar data that moves as you move.

Yelp shows me what's outside my window.
Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

The hot trend of 2009 has to be augmented reality, particularly with all the impressive tech demos and futuristic games currently in development across the world.

On the iPhone in particular, several companies have promised Twittering, search, and other navigation using layers of real-time data overlaid onto live video from the iPhone's camera. Imagine a heads-up display on reality itself, and that's what augmented reality is promising.

Apple has been onboard with these developments, promising that the upcoming OS 3.1 will provide full compatibility for AR apps. But it turns out we don't need to wait after all. In addition to French and British AR map programs hitting the App Store early, a much better and cooler solution has been lurking under our eyes the whole time.

Called "Monocle," it's an Easter egg within Yelp. As in, Yelp 3.0, the one that's currently available on the App Store. When I first read a tweet about it, I was disbelieving. But all you have to do is shake your phone three times like in some fairy tale to trigger the Monocle button, which suddenly appears on the top of the screen.

Launching it brings up honest-to-goodness overlaid restaurant and bar information that moves as you move, aided by the iPhone 3GS's built-in compass. It resembles the demos seen by the Layar browser.

Now playing: Watch this: Yelp for iPhone 3GS Monocle Feature

That compass is key for AR apps to work properly, because it senses direction. GPS alone won't cut it, which means you'd better have a 3GS to pull this off. Give it a try, though, and let us know if your 3G will work on it. And don't forget to update the Yelp app before shaking.

Will we use this? Maybe not so much, but we sure will enjoy showing it off.

(Via Fast Company)