The Plane Finder app has been around for awhile now and is one of the most widely-used flight tracking apps available. It allows you to view an interactive map showing the location and details of airline traffic and ADS-B out equipped airplanes around the world.
About 7 years ago they introduced a companion app, called Plane Finder AR, which allows you to point your iPhone or iPad at the sky, and it uses your device’s location, accelerometers, and camera to display a real-time view showing the location and details of any nearby flights. It’s a great app to use outdoors on clear days to find airplanes flying around you.
And just when you thought flight tracking couldn’t get any better, the company released a new app last month called Plane Finder 3D. This takes advantage of Apple’s new cutting-edge ARKit technology to allow you to explore any airspace in the world using augmented reality. Here’s how it works:
- Open the app and zoom into a section of airspace you’d like to explore. Start with an area near a busy international airport with lots of air traffic, like Los Angeles or New York.
- Press the AR icon in the lower left corner of the map, and confirm the airspace selection.
- Find a flat surface in your home or office, like a kitchen table or open spot on the floor, and point your iPad or iPhone camera towards that space. Follow the on-screen instructions and slowly move around the flat area, so that your device can scan the environment to set up the map.
- When the 3D map appears, you can then move your iPhone or iPad around the simulated environment to see the airplanes in the augmented reality view and tap one of the airplanes for flight details.
This is a really cool use of Apple’s augmented reality technology and a fun way to explore flights around the world from your living room. The only downside is you’ll need a newer iPad or iPhone running iOS 11 to use this feature. It’ll work with iPhone SE, 6S, 7, 8, X and the 2017 iPad and iPad Pro.
Plane Finder 3D is available for $4.99 in the app store.