Augmented Reality


I have had the Planefinder App on my android smartphone for a few months now and really enjoy tracking the planes that my family have been on as the planes continue to tour the world.

I am generally connected through wifi so when looking at the maps everything works very well and very quickly. I can identify the planes flying overhead by judging my position on the map.

To avoid confusion with other apps, the Android app has Augmented Reality as one option in the menu. If I try to use Augmented Reality, it all seems to fall apart. I use other AR apps (Hill Finder, Star Finder) and they work logically. I point the camera at the hill and the app works out where I am and what direction I am looking and tells me what the hill is called. I point the camera at a star and again, the app works out what star it is. But PlaneFinder AR seems not to know what direction I am looking in and has planes in the wrong part of the sky going in the wrong direction.

So am I doing something stupid - do I need to set something up? Do I need to understand some method of operation that is not quite clear. Is it meant to be used looking vertically upwards or should it be able to look at an horizon and identify planes far enough away to be near the horizon? So many questions yet I have not found and documentation or instructions.

Any advice gratefully received.
Could anybody who has the Android Planefinder App and who has Augemented Reality as one of the menu options please add a note to this thread saying so and also tell me whether you think it works as you would expect.
If I get a few replies, it would at least tell me whether I am the norm or an anomaly.

Thank you

Mark Daniels

Staff member
Hi there,

You aren't doing anything wrong.
Apps like Star Finder and Hill Finder work in the same way.

The difference is though that the position of starts etc is known.
Your Android device knows it's location too so it's not so tricky to make this work smoothly.

Aircraft positions are not known in advance so we are updating this constantly in the app.
We get the data from the on-board ADS-B via land based receivers.
The update frequency can varies depending on how many receivers we have in the area.

Please can you let me know your location and I'll run some checks at this end.

With thanks and regards,


Mark Daniels
Hi Mark, Thanks for the reply.
I am based in Northamptonshire in the UK not far from the M1.
Thinking about your explanation, can I just emphasise that when I use the app normally (watch little red planes travel around on a map) it all works pretty well. A little red plane flies over my position on the map pretty much at the same time as a real plane flies over me. It is only when in Augmented Reality Mode that the app does not seem to know which way it is oriented - as I rotate the phone, the picture rotates with the phone instead of trying to stay with north to the north. On occasions, I have had a plane on screen and in sight (not many over us so hard to be confused) but the plane on the phone is clearly travelling in the wrong direction. I can then rotate the phone so that the tracks coincide - but I should not have to do that.
My phone is a Motorola Razr HD running Android 4.1.2. The phone is not faulty or the other AR apps would not work either.
A couple of other comments - On HillFinder, I have to calibrate the app so that it understands what the viewing angle of the camera is and how wide the bit of land I can see is. Surely the same thing should apply to Planefinder? Is the little radar screen in one corner of the picture something to do with that and what is the significance of the little segment picked out in a lighter grey?
Is AR supposed to work for planes flying overhead or did the programmers imagine that I was lets say at an airport and looking more or less horizontally at planes taxiing?
Sorry to double the number of questions but I am convinced that either I have totally the wrong idea of how Planefinder AR works, or it does not work with any phone, or it is not compatible with my make of phone. I really doubt it is anything to do with the data gathering or the update interval, it is not lagging, it is just totally lost.
Hope all that helps you to help me!
Regards EnglishMohican


New Member
On my Moto G, AR only seems to work with the 'phone in *landscape* mode. Perhaps someone can tell me whether it *should* work in portrait mode.

Also, the little plane symbols always seem to be pointing "up". (That is, towards to top of the screen.)

I have discovered what appears to be a little AR-bug, but I'll start a new thread for that.



Mark Daniels

Staff member
Hi ChAoS,

Nothing wrong with you phone!
AR does only work in landscape mode and the aircraft indicators do point up!

These ones are features rather than bugs ;)

Best Regards,

Last edited:

Mark Daniels

Staff member
Hi EnglishMohican,

The app is supposed to work for aircraft overhead.
The little radar screen is supposed to help align the aircraft into the light grey triangle.

I have been able to replicate the weirdness that you describe but only indoors where I seem to lose GPS position sometimes.

Is it happening for you both on Wifi and a mobile network?

Best Regards,


Mark Daniels

Staff member
Hi Mark,

Ah yes - it does say that now ;)

No deeply tech reason - just that we thought landscape dod the job well!
Pointing the right way would be possible as we do know the heading.

It is good that you want more :)

Thanks for the suggestions/pointers.

Mark II
I think that the "only in landscape" and "planes only fly one way" features probably account for almost all my problems - so that clears a lot up so thank you all - I am glad to know it is not just me.

I am not sure I understand landscape mode only. Surely landscape only really makes sense when looking horizontally, when there is an horizon that provides a reference to match landscape to. If I am looking vertically upwards with the phone above my head, there is no meaning to landscape that I can understand. But I can probably live with it.

The planes flying the wrong way is a major "feature" as far as I am concerned and needs sorting before the AR part of the app can be taken seriously - sorry.

Finally, I still do not understand the little radar screen. I agree that when the dot is in the lighter segment, then there is a fair chance that a plane in the sky will coincide with a plane on the screen (vaguely at least) . However, I had thought of the radar screen as a ground plan of the planes in the area - much like a normal radar screen. Indeed it has a distance scale which appears to relate to the radius of the circle around me that the radar screen represents. So I assume that the lighter segment represents the camera view and that would work if I was always looking horizontally but it loses meaning as the angle upwards that I am looking at increases and loses all meaning when I am looking vertically up. If my understanding is correct, then the segment should become a circle centred on the middle of the radar screen. As it does not, this is either another feature or my understanding is wrong.

All that said, I am still getting great pleasure and amusement from following the current adventures of the planes my family has flown on over the last year. The basic app is a source of endless pleasure.