Best Apps and Sites for Augmented Reality

Hands of a woman using augmented reality on a high tech transparent digital tablet
(Image credit: iStock/Giulio Fornasar)
Recent updates

This article was updated May 24, 2024

Why should teachers integrate augmented reality (AR) apps and sites into their curricula? With manipulable 3D visuals, augmented reality apps and sites inject a wow factor into any subject, increasing kids’ engagement and enthusiasm for learning. In addition, recent research suggests that AR can foster greater empathy in users. Many of these immersive technology apps and sites are free or inexpensive.

To learn more about how to use augmented reality tools in your classroom, check out What Is Augmented Reality? and Tools and Apps to Bring Augmented Reality into Your Classroom before diving into the top augmented reality tools below.

Best Apps and Sites for Augmented Reality

iOS and Android AR Apps

My Very Hungry Caterpillar
Based on Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar book, the My Very Hungry Caterpillar app is ideal for encouraging a love of nature and nurture in kids up to age five. Users feed and care for the virtual caterpillar, allowing him to eventually transform into a butterfly. Along the way, they grow flowers, paint pictures, and hunt for buried treasure. This one’s a gem. iOS Android

An award-winning app that animates scanned drawings and doodles, such that the characters spring to life. Users can then engage with their creations through virtual activities such as playing and feeding. For only $0.99, create your own virtual reality. Check out this brief video to see how it works. iOS Android

solAR - Solar System in AR
A stunning AR app that allows users to bring elements of the solar system into close view for investigation and learning. The app uses your device’s camera to superimpose digital planets and moons on Earth-based scenarios, adjust the scale, and explore all the features. Free with in-app purchases. iOS Android

Assemblr EDU
This 3D and AR imaging platform allows students to explore, produce, edit, and annotate 3D and augmented reality creations, which can then be shared with teachers and classmates. Pre-made content and drag-n-drop controls makes it easy for users to get hooked right away. Free basic plan plus three paid levels provides a price point for every budget iOS Android

3DBear AR
This super-creative AR design app offers lesson plans, challenges, 3D models, social media sharing, and 3D printing capability. The 3DBear website provides video tutorials, curriculum, and distance learning resources for educators. Great for PBL, design and computational thinking. Free and paid plans, with a 30-day free trial. iOS Android

Quiver - 3D Coloring App
Quiver turns a special coloring book into a 3D augmented reality experience. Users print AR-enabled blank coloring sheets through the app or the website, then color each with crayons, colored pencils, or oil pastels. Activate the quiver app to bring the pages to life. Free app, free and paid coloring packs. iOS Android

SkyView Explore the Universe
One of the most popular AR astronomy apps, SkyView Explore the Universe makes it easy to identify galaxies, stars, constellations, planets, and satellites in the night sky, while the AR mode allows users to spot objects day or night. Great for out-of-the-way places, as no WiFi, data signal, or GPS is required. Try the Time Travel setting to see the sky of ancient and future ages. $1.99. iOS Android From the same developer, the similar SkyView Lite is free.

iOS AR Apps

A simple app for viewing 3D AR models. Users upload their own 3D models and can manipulate each one in various ways with the app. Augment works well for design-related subjects and presentations; resources are available for students and teachers to get started. Free.

An impressive AR anatomy app that covers every phase of frog life, from a single-celled egg to a full-grown frog. Dissect and examine the AR frog’s lifelike internal organs using a finger or Apple pencil with this 2018 iPad App of the Year. $3.99

Sky Guide
Winner of the Apple Design Award 2014, Sky Guide allows users to instantly locate stars, planets, satellites, and other celestial objects in the present, past, or future. Augmented Reality mode makes it easier to visualize and identify constellations. Works with or without WiFi, cellular service, or GPS. $2.99

This highly engaging interactive story app puts kids at the center of the unfolding action, allowing them to move around, become part of the story, and explore details by tapping on objects. Free for the first story; additional stories are $4.99 each

East of the Rockies
A beautiful story app from the National Film Board of Canada. Written by acclaimed author Joy Kogawa, this interactive tale follows the journey of a Japanese-Canadian family interned during WWII. Free teachers guide in English and French. $3.99

Websites for AR

McGraw Hill AR Online
Explore topics ranging from V8 engines to exponential growth to the features of glaciers in this fine collection of 3D interactive augmented reality animations. Each interactive begins with an overview of the subject, then provides an opportunity for users to manipulate objects and activate functions. Take the quiz following each exercise to demonstrate comprehension. Free, no account required.

CoSpaces Edu
A complete 3D, coding, and AR/VR platform for education, CoSpaces Edu provides online tools for teachers and students to create and explore their own augmented worlds. Features include lesson plans and an extensive gallery of CoSpaces created by teachers, students, and the CoSpacesEdu team. AR requires iOS or Android device and free app. Free basic plan for up to 29 students.

A standards-aligned K-12 science curriculum with lesson plans and eye-popping, sophisticated interactive 3D models. Integrates with Google Drive, Google Classroom, and Microsoft Teams for easy sharing and saving. Prices start at $8 per student annually. 14-day free trial with premium content.

Diana Restifo

Diana has been Tech & Learning's web editor and contributor since 2010, dedicated to ferreting out the best free tech tools for teachers.