Update: HT Mobile Solutions has informed us that HT Media had launched the ARPLus app on January 1, 2013 for for the readers of Hindi newspaper “Hindustan” (which explains why we couldn’t find it the English newspaper “Hindustan Times”) across 19 regions: Delhi, Patna, Muzaffarpur and Bhagalpur, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Dhanbad, Lucknow, Varanasi, Meerut, Agra and Kanpur, Allahabad, Dehradun, Bareilly,Aligarh, Haldwani, Gorakhpur and Moradabad. UP and Bihar have so far shown the maximum usage of ARPlus.

HT Mobile had launched 5 Augmented Reality experiences under the title of “Mobile mein Biscope”, which included content in the form of slide shows, video and audio.

Original article (Jan 7, 2013):

Following the launch of an augmented reality app Alive by the Times of India, HT Media appears to have launched its own app, ARPlus, for its newspaper, The Hindustan Times. The app is available for download on Android and iOS platform, and allows readers of the newspaper to interact with a print medium, for access to rich media content. Hindustan Times readers need to point the app, which opens up in camera mode, towards the ARPlus logo on the newspaper. The app, then scans an image/content and looks for feature points within the image and match those against a backend database and pulls up the multimedia content on their screen, for new video content.

The app description on the Google Play Store indicates that the app will be used to promote online content as well as for advertising.

No Promotions?

While we downloaded the app on our Smartphone (A90S and iPhone5), we couldn’t find the ARPlus logo on newspapers dated January 7 and 6, 2013: it’s odd that there’s neither any kind of promotion of the app on the newspaper nor there’s any implementation. It appears as if Hindustan Times hastily came up with its own version of augment reality app to compete with ToI, which runs at least one Alive app promotion in its newspaper. It should be noted that while TOI still hasn’t used its app for advertisements, HT’s app clearly states that it might use the app for advertisements as well. We will update the post with review of the app once we spot the ARPlus logo on the HT newspaper.

That said, we went through app reviews on the Android app store and have noticed that some users are facing a forced shut down on the app. The app worked just fine for us on the Android Smartphone (Micromax A90S), however, it got stuck on loading screen on the iPhone 5.

It’s interesting to note that print media has started taking initiative to make the print experience more interactive, something which their online presence has been able to do. While print newspaper readership has been on decline in the US, it is still strong in India. Newspaper need to find out a way to retain the readership and turning the newspaper, which has been a one way communication tool, into a two-way communication medium just might do the job. Besides, it will also slowly prepare its readers for the transition to its online medium.