Amazon's iOS and Android apps now feature augmented reality shopping [Update]

(Image credit: Amazon)

Update: Several months after augmented reality (AR) shopping came to Amazon's iOS app, the online giant has now added the feature to the Android version.

Amazon's AR View lets shoppers place a digital render of a product in their home to see what it will look like before they buy it. To access AR View, you'll first need to download the AR Core app, according to ZDNet, then head to the Amazon app's camera icon to start placing things like AR futons in your living room.

If you decide to do a little scouting in AR before making your purchase, you'll have 15,000 items to test out, from couches to cribs. Not too shabby for a still-nascent mobile technology.

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Augmented reality (AR) is about to make shopping online for furniture a heck of a lot easier. As of today, you'll find a new feature called AR View in Amazon's iOS app that lets you see what big items like desks and entertainment systems will look like in your home before you buy them.

In Amazon's own words in its patch notes, this applies to everything from furniture and speakers to coffeemakers. To use it, simply click on the camera icon next to the app's search bar and then click on AR View, and you'll see a list of products that you can virtually place within your house.

Unfortunately, this is the only way it appears to work at the moment. I tried to access AR View in reverse by going to my wish list and choosing furniture from there, but there were no links on the landing pages for seeing my prairie-style lamps in AR View.

And, in fact, far fewer items appear to be available for AR View than the talk of "thousands" of items that I'm seeing elsewhere would suggest, as it took me only a couple of seconds to scroll through all the furniture listed in the "Living Room" section. Maybe I'm missing something, but right now the selection is closer to "dozens." Naturally, under "Electronics," Amazon's Echo devices take center stage.

But AR View works well with the relatively few items currently on offer. Just allow the app to find a flat surface (which was kind of a struggle for me with my white tile floor and white walls), tap the screen, and then  – poof –  the chair or bookcase appears in your house through the camera view. 

Sizing it up

You can also rotate objects by holding down two fingers on the screen, or you can resize them as needed. Unfortunately, that means you'll have to know how big the object really is before you buy it. 

In other words, that bookcase you want to buy might have looked really lovely when you resized it to take up half the wall inside the app, but you'll be in for a rude surprise when its real-life counterpart shows up and takes up only half the space.

At least it's easy to buy items. If you decide you like how the item looks, you just need to click on a menu at the top right of the AR View interface in order to go to the store page.

For now, it largely appears to be a neat side feature that should become more useful as more interactive objects get added. The feature is currently only available for the iPhone 6S and higher, and the device needs to be running iOS 11.

It's also not the first time we've seen an app like this, as IKEA rolled out an AR feature earlier this year, but the massive product selection available through Amazon make this a feature to keep your eyes on.