watAR is a free augmented reality app for iOS that lets you distort the real world around you as if it were made of water. Use it to add giant waves to a street or create raindrops on your walls.


Unlike traditional AR apps, watAR does not simply add 3D models of water or rain into the world, instead it visually distorts the underlying surface where the effect is placed. While this is most obvious with the wave effect, even the ripples from raindrops lift up parts of the surface. The raindrops and touch animations in watAR aren’t canned either. Behind the scenes the app is actually running a simple fluid simulation.

Other app highlights:

I’m most proud of the “interactive surface” feature. This requires a device with a LiDAR sensor (such as the iPhone 12 pro or iPad pro) and must be explicitly enabled under the lightbulb menu. Once enabled though, it allows you to physically interact with the virtual water using your hands, feet, or any other real world object. While the adjective “magic” is greatly overused in tech, being able to reach out to a solid wall and seeing it ripple like water as you run your hand across it is simply magical.

Music by 猫 シ Corp.

The “interactive surface” feature certainly isn’t perfect but it’s the great example of how AR can be a hell of a lot more than placing virtual couches. Hopefully the next round of iPhones make LiDAR sensors standard across the board so that more people can have these sort of experiences too.

Give watAR a try today and let me know if you create anything cool using it. If you like the app, be sure to leave a review too. It really helps others find it.