Augmented Reality Travel Apps are a Gold Rush for Thieves

Lonely Planet’s new augmented reality travel guides are proving hit amongst Android users. Built to use the operating system’s advanced data mapping and navigation features, the applications lay out landmarks and other tourism-focused data across a complete three-dimensional view. With similar technology under the hood to that found on leading iPhone AR apps, the guides are top downloads.

Users can purchase the applications from Google’s Android App Store – the operating system’s main extension and application interface. Priced at just $4.95 each and available for twenty-five different cities. Popular downloads include Sydney, New York City, and San Francisco – three tech-obsessed areas with a reputation for gadgetry. Lonely Planet plans to release maps for other cities shortly.

While the applications have been met with a warm reception from smartphone users, they’re being snapped up even more quickly by muggers and petty thieves. Augmented reality applications tend to leave users unaware of their surroundings and susceptible to simple theft attempts. Reports from smartphone owners reflect a very real trend of augmented reality resulting in snatched handsets.

For those travelling in unsafe cities, the mapping software could end up becoming an unnecessary security risk. However, those in safer cities such as Tokyo and Bangkok are likely to benefit from the specialized instructions and information on offer, all without fear of their handset disappearing into a crowd. If you’re particularly worried, using a wristband can help eliminate grab-n-run theft.

The applications could end up being the step Lonely Planet has needed for the past twenty-four months, as the company has watched digital competition rapidly catch up in usage and ownership rates. With competition in the form of recently acquired WikiTravel and region-specific internet publishers, it appears Lonely Planet has some way to go in winning back travel’s top spot.