Free-roaming dinosaurs, addictively fun makeovers and much more are right at your fingertips.

By Dan Tynan
Photo by Peter Ardito

Remember a couple of summers back when chasing down Pokémon Go creatures was all the rage? That technology, which uses a smartphone’s built-in camera to combine real-world images with virtual ones, has only gotten better over the last year or so, as Apple and Google both introduced enhanced AR that interacts more realistically with the world around us. Now your selfie-prone teen can experiment with new makeup looks, her brother can play with a life-size T-rex in the backyard and you can make the most of late-night downtime by taking in the sky above. Go on—use your phone to do something besides suffer through endless brain-numbing group texts.

Monster Park AR

Go one better than just watching Jurassic World. Monster Park AR puts at least five prehistoric beasties nearby—think along the lines of an enormous T. rex stomping all over your garden or a giant velociraptor digging through your drywall. Capture videos and share with friends on the iOS version. Android, free; iOS, $3 plus in-app purchases


Create hidden messages by snapping a picture of a surface and adding text, graphics or stickers. When other WallaMe friends receive app alerts and point their phones at the same location, they’ll see what you left there. Think secret love notes for your SO or a neat way for teens to talk about you behind your back. Android and iOS, free

Night Sky

Just aim your device at the heavens—day or night—to identify constellations, overlay the correct animals or mythological figures and get the lowdown on every star and planet. iOS, free; $2/month or $10/year for Premium

ModiFace Live

ModiFace taps your phone’s self-facing camera to do instant makeovers, offering hundreds of options for blush, mascara, eyeliner, colored contact lenses, lashes and lipstick. Just purse your lips or raise your eyebrows to change your look, then tap on the screen to take a picture or video of the new you. Once your teen daughter discovers this app, you may never see her again. iOS, free

Boulevard AR

Scan a blank wall with the app and “hang” the 1596 portrait of English ambassador Sir Henry Unton. Hear an art

expert from London’s National Portrait Gallery talk you through all the details of the piece. More installations will become available as time goes on. iOS, $3