Everyone should try virtual reality, and thanks to Google Cardboard, nearly everyone can. All you need is a smartphone and one of the many Cardboard headsets available. Funny enough, some of them are actually made of cardboard, while others take on a more familiar modeling of a VR headset. But, they all share a few common traits of being affordable and easy to use.
Compared to the $599 (£499/AU$649) Oculus Rift, the $799 (around £550, AUS$1,115) HTC Vive, and Google Daydream headsets coming later in the year, getting set up with a Cardboard headset will likely cost you less than $50. While Google Cardboard is in no way a direct competitor in terms of performance with the big players in VR, there's still plenty of fun stuff to do.
Once you get your hands on (and head inside) a Google Cardboard kit, you're going to need some apps and games. There's a solution to every problem, and we've solved this one in particular just for you.
Here are the apps and games available for Google Cardboard that you need to check out. And best of all, these are all available free of charge.
Within (Formerly Vrse)
Within is a hub for high-quality 360-degree video content. You'll find a nice assortment of things to watch, such as experimental short films, concert events. Plus, you can step behind the scenes of some Saturday Night Live productions. New content is being added on a semi-frequent basis.
Nevermind the silly name. BAMF VR is actually one of the more inventive and involved VR experiments available. Best of all, it's free.
The game puts you through several challenging obstacle courses that you'll need to think your way through. Teleport from platform to platform to make it through each of the cleverly designed levels. This is one to check out.
While we're on the topic of 360-degree video content, it's hard not to mention YouTube. The app offers a growing amount of immersive videos to get lost in. Here, you'll find the zaniest ones that are sure to get a rise out of VR first-timers.
For the videos that aren't shot natively in 360-degrees, you can now even watch all of those with the Cardboard equipped.
Much of what this app has to offer has little to do with VR, but there's some fun to be had for die-hard Star Wars fans. After clicking on the "Jakku Spy" Cardboard setting, there are nine different snippets of video that you can watch, complete with full-on production value and familiar sound effects.
Fulldive gives you a VR-view of all of your content, including the photos and videos stored on your phone. It's an awesome, new way to look at your stuff.
Additionally, you can browse YouTube and surf the web right from the app. Many apps can do what Fulldive does in piecemeal, but why not opt for the app that can do it all?
Cardboard Design Lab
Google's own app is a bit different from the others. Have you ever wondered how VR developers make their experiences fun and natural to use? Then this app is worth looking at. It breaks down the guidelines of what makes for a good VR experience into simple language and presents it in vividly designed presentation.
Chair in a Room
Now, let's talk games, shall we? This one easily gets a vote because it starts you out in the dark with nothing but a flashlight. In case you couldn't tell, it's a horror game. There isn't much to the game, but we're positive that you'll enjoy the suspense of being immersed, I mean, trapped in a dark room with a busted flashlight.
Voxel Fly VR
Probably the best-looking title on this list, Voxel Fly VR blends the striking, colorful aesthetic of Mirror's Edge with a futuristic take on Frogger. The only difference being that you're placed into a cockpit of a ship and facing a fleet of flying cars head-on. Have fun!
This game is an endless runner, of sorts, that puts you into a spacecraft with enemies hot on your tail. It's a lot like Temple Run in that you collect boosts and other goodies to outsmart the baddies, but it's wrapped in a futuristic style that makes this one hard to put down.
Flying through space is awesome, until you encounter the asteroid belt. In Vanguard V, tilt your way through the obstacles with a space ranger decked out in a style that calls back to Zone of the Enders. Need I say more?