New Delta App Puts a Virtual Glass Bottom on Your Plane, Shows You What's Below

If you've ever looked out your window and wondered, "What is that down there?," a new iPad app will satisfy your curiosity.

Delta's new iPad app has all the usual features of a standard airline app: paperless check-in, flight tracking, and seat maps. But it also has a new bell/whistle that will satisfy anyone who has looked out the window and thought, "What is that?!" -- which is to say, everyone. The app will pull in pictures, Wikipedia articles, and Facebook data to show you what -- and who of your friends -- you're flying over. It's location-based augmented reality, like Google's FieldTrip app or Findery, just this time, from 30,000 feet up.

I've really enjoyed in recent years using my phone to track the surroundings as I'm on a train or a passenger in a car on a highway, adding names and information to a landscape I'm passing through all too quickly. This app won't disappear the hated term "fly-over country" -- after all, people will be flying over whatever landscapes that app enables them to explore -- but it will give cross-country flyers a chance to learn a little something about the towns and places below.

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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