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4 Augmented Reality Apps Making Young Consumers Take Notice

AR has broken into Millennials’ and Gen Z’s mobile entertainment world, and these four apps show how they’re having fun with the technology, and making it more mainstream than ever…

This is augmented reality’s year. In May, Instagram adopted AR face filters a la Snapchat, spreading the pastime to multiple platforms. Snapchat’s break-dancing AR hot dog took over the internet in July—inspiring a Halloween costume months later becuase it became so popular. The app has invited brands to play in the AR space, and beauty brands have been releasing their own AR features all year. Then, Apple’s ARKit was launched in August, opening the floodgates to a new wave of AR apps and tools—like Food Network’s cake-decorating app, The Very Hungry Caterpillar AR, and GIPHY World. It’s clear that AR is taking over social platforms, marketing, and more.  

The spread of augmented reality was something we called out as a trend to watch for the year—and we noted that it may outshine virtual reality for some time. Thanks to the accessibility of the technology (AR can live on every smartphone while VR requires special headsets and gear) it’s becoming mainstream at a much faster clip—and quickly being integrated into Millennials and Gen Z’s mobile entertainment time. Pokémon Go helped to familiarize the generations with AR’s potential, and Snapchat has been normalizing AR play ever since. Now we’re seeing even more augmented reality apps get young consumers attention with new features and ways to use the tech every day—here are four to know:


Have you noticed your social media feeds getting a lot more sparkly lately? You can thank AR app Kirakira+, the platform adding glittery effects to celebrities’ and young consumers’ social posts. The app allows users to take photos and videos with several added “twinkle” effects—essentially putting stars and lens flares into everyday moments. A surprise “star” of Fashion Week this September, according to Refinery 29, Kirakira+ has also had its popularity boosted by some high-profile users, and was included in NYMag’s recent rundown of the glitter obsession taking over fashion. A quick scan of the #kirakira tag on Instagram indicates that nail art, food porn, jewelry, and luxe items are favorite recipients of the sparkly AR treatment.

AR Dragon

If you ever wanted to just keep one of those Pokémon you captured via AR as a pet, AR Dragon is the app for you. Reportedly the top free ARKit app of the moment, AR Dragon from PlaySlide does just one thing: allow users to “Hatch and care for your own unique dragon!” The dragon can then be viewed via AR in any surrounding, accompanying owners through their houses, on errands, etc. The top complaints at the moment seem to be that after hatching and feeding your dragon there isn’t much to do on the app—but if you just want to take pictures of a cute AR dragon cooking dinner with you, AR Dragon has everything.


Spilly is taking AR to the next level, allowing users to add themselves into popular YouTube videos. For instance, users could crop their face onto Rose’s in an iconic Titanic scene using the “imposter feature.” There’s no Snapchat Dancing Hot Dog, sorry to say, but users can record themselves to become part of the clip instead. But if you don’t want to have a starring role, there are plenty of other ways to edit using AR overlays and features. The “Snapchat-like AR effects” available on Spilly can be added onto any video the app has sourced in from YouTube (and there are many). Add confetti, flowers, a spotlight, rain, and more to personalize the perfect clip. Though the app can seem like silly fun, high-tech “neural networks” are working behind-the-scenes to bring these features to life. Oh, and Spilly is making sure the selection of videos never dwindles by working with creators to keep the app’s feed fresh.

Plant Life Balance

Millennials heart houseplants, and have helped fuel the popularity of hashtags like #urbanjungle, #monsteramonday, and #plantgang with their natural obsession. But how will they know what plants will look good in their apartments? With the magic of AR, of course! Plant Life Balance places AR plants into users’ spaces so they can test out their new greenery. But it’s not just a visual tool. According to Mashable, users can “assess your current ‘plant-life balance’ (how many rooms you have, how many plants), then use AR to drop in over 90 plant recommendations, and get an analysis of their benefits.” Does this mean there is literally an app for everything now?

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.