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Use Augmented Reality to Shop From Your Smartphone

These major companies include augmented reality in their shopping apps.

Raise your hand (the one not holding your smartphone) if today’s technology makes you feel like we’re living in a sci-fi film! Today, we’re talking about Augmented Reality (AR). As long as we view the world from the window of our smartphones, we can add dinosaurs, magic trees and, well, furniture. It’s pretty cool.

We’ve been using smartphones for shopping for years now, but companies like Ikea and Amazon have really stepped up their game, introducing an immersive shopping experience through their apps with AR. (Before you start redesigning your space with your smartphone, make sure you have the speed and power you need with mix and match Unlimited plan options.)

And now: here’s a list of five shopping apps that do AR right.

shadescout icon


Play with makeup shades before you buy. The concept is pretty cool; you can scan a color—from a flower, for example—and match it in the app to find products in that shade. Then, “try on” that shade as virtual makeup, and buy the product if you like how it looks.

ikea place iconIKEA Place

This app, in Google Play and iTunes, accurately represents the size of IKEA furniture in your room, so you can get a “real” sense of how your new chair, sofa or desk will look in your space. You can also search for things: scan your favorite chair and the app will show you IKEA things that most resemble it. You can share your AR experiences through WhatsApp or Instagram, too.

target bulls eye iconTarget

Target’s AR feature, on their mobile website, is called “See It In Your Space.” It’s a bit simpler, leaving it up to you to scale furniture and accessories into a picture of your room. It’s still fun, and the feature promises to grow in sophistication over the next year.

wayfair iconWayfair IdeaSpace

Want the cherry-red mixer? See how will look in your kitchen before you click “buy!” The Wayfair app also allows you to check out “inspiration rooms,” stocked with Wayfair products you can grab and “place” in your own home. Select and “play” with items, rotating them in virtual space. Check it out in Google Play and iOS.

amazon app iconAmazon

Amazon’s app on Google Play and iOS might be the coolest of all the AR shopping apps. It does the same things others do; you can see how products will look in your space and you can scan things you’d like to find them for sale on Amazon.

And there’s X-Ray View! It lets you see inside your Amazon box as soon it lands on your porch. It might not be the most useful feature of the app (since you probably know what you bought.) But, if you want to let someone else in the house rip open that smiley box, you can check the insides without breaching the cardboard. Just open the app and scan the shipping label.