Lonely Planet's 25 travel guides get a dose of Augmented Reality

Lonely Planet, the BBC World-owned travel guide company, has rolled out an Augmented Reality option for Android users.

Now targeting 25 popular European, US and Asian cities, its AR-supported ‘Compass Guides’ use a combination of GPS, compass and the phone’s camera to enable users to see their current location and nearby points of interest. The app then overlays information on top of the device’s view finder, as it were.

Most of the information is preloaded into the city specific app, meaning that travelers don’t need a data plan unless, of course, they wish to use the mapping feature, says the company, which I’m presuming is powered by the data-hungry Google Maps.

The AR functionality is provided through a partnership with Austrian developer Wikitude (Mobilizy) who will take a share of revenue, with each app costing $4.99 via the Android Market. Lonely Planet had previously only offered an AR app for 5 U.S. cities and available to U.S. Android users-only in a fairly low key trial, which saw enough interest to warrant a broader roll out.

The complete list of cities supported are: Amsterdam, Bangkok, Barcelona, Beijing, Hong Kong, Istanbul, London, Paris, Prague, Rome, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney, Vancouver, Boston, Chicago, LA, Las Vegas, Miami, New Orleans, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC.

Lonely Planet isn’t the only AR app in the travel guide space and, interestingly doesn’t yet support AR in its iPhone offering. There’s Canada-based mTrip, which offers tourist guides for various cities, including a host of European destinations, on the iPhone and iPod touch. And we recently reported on competitor Tripwolf’s recent AR-supported travel guide for Apple’s smartphone.