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Night Sky – AR features bring the stars to life

Night Sky has stunning AR capabilities

Price: Free
Version: 6.0
Size: 505 MB
Seller: iCandi Apps
Platform: iPhone/iPad

Update! Night Sky’s offering has made it a staple in many iPhone user’s device so it’s no wonder its developed continues at pace – we’re now on version 8.

So what’s new? Tonnes. Night Sky has added super deep zoom capabilities – more than 10x more since version 7 which translates to being able to access hundreds of millions of extra stars. Full of quirks, it also adds notifications so you can find out when the newly launched Starlink satellites flyover your location, aurora mapping showing you where it is most visible, while it also ramps up its AR capabilities, allowing you to pull planets stars and constellations out to view in greater detail.

Revised rating: Like the universe, it just keeps growing, and its score should reflect that. ★★★★★


Our original review, written in October 2018, is presented in its entirety below.

Night Sky is a long-running ‘planetarium in your pocket’ app that lets you shoot for the stars – no matter what time of day it is.

The app uses your device’s internal accelerometer to overlay a 3D rendering of space, complete with star systems and planets which appear as you hold your device up and move around the sky. The app can be used at any time of day and shows you what would be visible in that position if it was a clear dark night, or you had a telescope.

Night Sky shows you what celestial bodies are out there using your devices built-in capabilities

The app also looks to give you the best experience by offering weather reports for stargazing and notifications for special events. You can tap on various different celestial objects including stars, satellites and other bodies like the sun or moon to learn more about them and their position in the solar system.

The app also uses augmented reality to overlay objects onto the real world using your camera

You can also double tap on an object to pull it into focus before exploring around it as a 3D object, or, if you tap the moon symbol in the bottom right, you will be given a timeline where you can scrub to see what that area of the sky will look like throughout the day or later at night. Essentially time travel in space – Doctor Who, eat your heart out!

It also features a time scrubber so you can see how objects will appear later

But one of Night Sky’s best features is its augmented reality capabilities. AR means that rendered objects and text can be overlaid on top of images captured by your device’s camera. This results in beautiful illustrations of constellations like Leo or Aries towering over your local high street.

If you opt not to use the AR mode, you’re still treated to an animated view which is just as impressive. This shows you the sky and cityscape with the night sky overlaid so you can see what you might expect to find at night.

Tap on an object and you’ll be given the opportunity to explore it in 3D

Elsewhere, Night Sky has added Siri shortcuts in iOS 12 thanks to Apple opening up its AI assistant to third-party developers. It’s easy to set up a shortcut – when you tap on an object you’ve found in the sky the app will offer to make a Siri shortcut. Now, you just ask Siri where that object is and it’ll show you in the app. For example, “hey Siri, show me where the International Space Station is” is a useful one for quickly tracking the ISS at any time.

You can learn more about each object in the sky

Night Sky has a whole host of premium features too, and this is where its AR capabilities come to life. These include Planetary Portals, which allows you to explore the surface of other planets by placing virtual ‘portals’ around the real-life room you’re stood in. You can also get or create live sky tours for any location and time in the world – you can pick a location and save in advance of a visit so it’s set up and ready to go. It’s all very sci-fi.

Premium works on a subscription model of $2/£2 per month or $10/£10 per year, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t that expensive. And this app truly shows you the grand scheme of things.

The free version of Night Sky places it as one of the best apps out there for stargazing, and while previously the premium version placed it mostly on a par with the likes of Pocket Universe or Solar Walk, its latest iOS 12 update might just have put it a notch or two ahead.