Halifax has launched its first augmented-reality (AR) mobile app, to woo first-time buyers by offering a streamlined service in the notoriously complicated task of purchasing a home.
The Halifax Home Finder app, available on Android and iOS, lets users search for properties for sale by using their smartphone’s AR and GPS functions.
Halifax Homefinder users can use the app’s AR features by turning on the function and pointing it in the direction of properties nearby, with the display also showing the building’s advertised price.
Users can also access information on the local area, such as what schools and public transport links are in the vicinity.
In addition, the app also lets users access property information, such as the average house price in an area, using records from the Land Registry Office. It contains a mortgage repayment estimator as well as home-buyer guide.
Halifax paired with Grapple Mobile to launch the app, dubbed the UK’s first “one-stop shop” for house hunters.
Halifax, part of the Lloyd’s banking group, launched its first app in December last year, which has since generated 600,000 downloads, and plans to follow up with further mobile product launches.
Ashley Machin, Halifax’s digital banking director, said, “When launching this, we stepped back and thought to ourselves what do people actually need when they move house? We’re the bank most associated with home owning in the UK and launching an app like this seemed the most sensible way of moving ahead with our strategy.”
Machin added that he expected the number of Halifax mobile banking app downloads to top the 1m mark within the first half of 2012.
“We’re moving towards an age when internet connectivity will be embedded in everything and we’ll be looking at how mobile effects how people live their lives,” he said, although he couldn’t comment further on the upcoming launches.
Alistair Crane, CEO of Grapple Mobile, said the fact his agency had already helped Lloyds Banking Group generate 1.5m mobile downloads aided them when lobbying for the inclusion of AR features within the latest app.
“We stay away from innovation just for the sake of it but really thought that including AR was a way of making this stand out,” he said. “We had this idea for a while because we thought the whole process of buying a home was far too fragmented, so we thought having something like this would be ideal for first-time buyers.”