Google Cardboard is a wicked toy and a brilliant gift idea, allowing you to turn any Android 4.1+ phone into a virtual-reality headset for a tenner. But the apps found within the Cardboard app are relatively limited and can get boring quick. Also see: How to make a Google Cardboard VR headset
To find new apps for Cardboard just open Google Play and search for Cardboard. Some apps require a keyboard or joystick; all you need for the apps below is Google Cardboard and your phone. Here are some of our favourite third-party Google Cardboard apps.
12 best Google Cardboard apps
Snow Shaker Maker
This one's perfect for the run up to Christmas, and ideal for kids. It lets you, using Google Cardboard, turn your Android phone into a snow shaker and then add a new character each day during Advent. The app is free from Google Play, but as a charity project Brilliant Basics also sells the cardboard viewers on its website for £12, of which £5 will go to the Kid's Co Charity. Alternatively, you can download a free template. Head to Brilliant Basics for further details.
Google Cardboard Camera
Taking 360-degree panoramas with your phone is nothing new. In fact, the latest version of Google's camera app on Android includes this option: you can then scroll around the photo in the gallery viewer to see the entire room or place where you were.
Thanks to the new Cardboard Camera app you can capture something similar - a stereoscopic panorama - that you can view with Google Cardboard. You can also record audio so friends or family with Google Cardboard know what they're looking at
Orbulus is a must-have VR smartphone app, allowing you to explore everywhere from the Sydney Opera House to Paris at night, San Francisco's Chinatown or even the inside of a washing machine. So, you'll get go to places Christopher Columbus himself would (possibly) be jealous of. Seriously, though, great graphics make this free app well worth the massive 216MB download (make sure you do so only over Wi-Fi unless you have unlimited mobile data).
Rollercoaster is a fantastic VR simulator, putting you in the scariest seat of all at the front of this terrifying ride as it twists and turns up, down, around and around, hurtling past city buildings and skyscrapers. You can look up, you can look side to side; don't look down. Turn around and you're not alone. (And she's screaming, too.)
Hang Gliding comes from the same developer as Rollercoaster, and it's arguably even more sickly. It's difficult to know what's more worrying: that pretty mountain rapidly apporoaching your face or whether that's sky or sea below you. People do this for fun?
Dive Deep takes you down to the depths of the ocean where you can swim among fish, sharks and whales, all without donning a wetsuit and goggles or ruining your hair do. The graphics could be better, but Dive Deep is a great concept.
If your kids love dinosaurs then they'll love JurrasicLand (for which there is a free trial version or you can pay £1.86 for the full app). You get to sit in a Jurassic Park-style Jeep and, if you dare, go offroad to meet the dinosaurs. And while it might look as though that Giganotosaurus is about to step on your head, he's a big teddy bear really. (Well, he doesn't stand on your head anyway.) There are five dinosaurs to meet and apparently more to come, including T-Rex, Giganotosaurus, Apatosaurus, Euoplocephalus and Triceratops - of which I've heard of two (my nephew would be so disappointed in me), so a tour guide might be a good idea. Seriously, one of the largest carnivores is called a Giganotosaurus - isn't that the same kind of thing as a DoYouThinkHeSaurus?
Cartoon Village VR
Cartoon Village VR is a cute app that places you in a bright and colourful 3D cartoon environment. You move from scene to scene, taking a good look at every nook and cranny and having a general nose about. You can change the season and time of day, and tweak the camera mode and walking speed. Not a lot happens in this cartoon village, but the graphics are nice - the butterflies, insects and leaves that flutter around you are particularly cool.
Tuscany Dive is a nice app from Oculus VR that lets you explore beautiful Tuscany. You need a powerful smartphone and it's irritating that you must touch the screen to begin or change the graphics (our phone is in a box), but it's worth the hassle. As with several VR apps we've tried, you must look down at your feet to begin the auto-walk. Obviously. Who needs to see where they're going these days? Well, in Tuscany you just might want to open your eyes.
VR Dance Club
VR Dance Club is cheesy-cool. It's just a bunch of skeletons dancing to terrible music (neither Daft Punk nor The Chemical Brothers). Some of them have hats. We like that. Let us play our own music and we'd like it even more.
Many of the games available for Google Cardboard require a keyboard or joystick, but VR-GunDefense is one of the few that doesn't. It feels a bit like zombies shooting zombies, except you're not a zombie. The weird angle at which we had to hold our head to shoot them (the gun was in our right arm rather than shown as crosshairs on the screen) meant we probably looked like one, though. The best thing about VR-GunDefense is you'll die before you run out of bullets, which is handy because your gun is constantly firing.
VR Cinema for Cardboard
VR Cinema is an app of two halves: one that lets you watch any video stored on your phone on a cinematic screen; and one that does something weird with your camera and basically shows you the view through the lens if that lens was rubbish. You can't take photos, and the view is blurred and dark. We're not sure what to make of the camera functionality, but the video viewer could be pretty neat with the right movie.
Also check out Chrome Experiments for Cardboard
Visit vr.chromeexperiments.com/ using the Chrome browser on your Android phone. From here you can take a virtual helicopter ride over the Great Barrier Reef, watch a three-dimensional musical score, visit some Russian bears and more.
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