Google Daydream is here, and it's the cooler younger sibling to Google's cheap and cheerful Cardboard VR platform. Sure, the focus is now on Daydream but Cardboard is still the very cheapest way to get into virtual reality.
Here's a quick refresher on Cardboard: it's a low-cost, DIY virtual reality headset that anyone can build, with a software platform that makes it incredibly easy for app developers to add VR support to their creations.
Essential reading: The best VR headsets
Google sells its own headsets which work with iPhones and Android phones but there are plenty of other Cardboard-esque headsets you can pick up like DodoCase or Freefly VR, all for decent prices. Just look out for the Works with Cardboard badge.
Once you've got your headset you'll want some experiences to test out. Here's our pick of the best VR-enabled apps and games you can find in the Google Play Store and iTunes right now.
Within VR (formely VRSE)
The name may have changed but Chris Milk's app is still one of the best ways to get a slice of cinematic virtual reality. There's short movies, documentaries and comedy from the likes of the New York Times and Saturday Night Live. Grab a pair of headphones as well to complete the fully immersive experience.
Oceans have been done plenty of times in VR. Caves? Not so much. VR Cave takes care of that and, while it's little short, you still get to dive into spelunking without the dirt and claustrophobia. It's also a very detailed exploration of a cave that will have you wishing it won't end. Just don't watch the horror movie The Descent before playing.
Free, Google Play
A favourite of Cardboard users, Hidden Temple takes a point-and-click type puzzle adventure and brings it to mobile VR. It's all controlled by your gaze (i.e. turning your head) as you look carefully for items in an ancient temple. Plus the graphics are superb for a Cardboard VR game.
Adventure Time: I See Ooo VR
A bit pricey for just two VR mini games but Cartoon Network has also added a puzzle to the mix. One game has you gliding through Ooo, another snowball fighting against penguins, to rescue Adventure Time characters like Jake, BMO and Princess Bubblegum.
Bohemian Rhapsody Experience
Love Queen? The Bohemian Rhapsody Experience takes you on a journey through frontman Freddie Mercury's subconscious mind and recreates the sensation of being onstage with the band, complete with visual and audio components that respond to your movements.
Fulldive is a virtual reality platform that allows you to browse and view 3D and 360 photos and videos, and also browse the internet. There's quite a lot you can do including taking your own VR photos, stream 360 YouTube videos and compatibility for Netflix, Hulu and Roku are all on the way.
Wizard Academy VR
Wizard Academy is a bunch of action and learning games that launches you into a magical land where you can navigate around a village to discover the various educational and ridiculously fun challenges. A 'controller' is needed for VR which can be bought here, however in true Cardboard fashion, you can make one yourself by downloading a free kit.
Google Arts & Culture
Google has produced some solid VR and 360-degree content, and Google Arts & Culture is another we think is worth checking out. You can explore artwork, artifacts and more from over 850 museums, archives, and organizations worldwide that have partnered with Google Cultural Institute to bring their collections and stories online. There are even options to zoom in for a closer look and factual tidbits if you want to learn more.
Chair in a Room
Horror is the perfect fit for VR and this indie gem is guaranteed to give you a fright. Plunged into darkness, objects to pop out of from everywhere with just a flashlight to guide you. The first story is about a missing girl but the new Greed story takes the horror to another location. If you scare easy, you might want to avoid this one.
Free, Google Play
InMind is a fun, but short, little game that takes place in you guessed it, your brain. It essentially allows you to journey into a patient's brain to search of the neurons that cause mental disorder.
Since YouTube's addition of 360-degree videos, there's a lot more content you can browse through. From experiencing the 2016 elections, to virtual tours of random offices you'll probably never step foot in and even VR shorts, you'll probably lose just as many hours watching 360 videos as you do watching YouTube normally.
Read this: The best 360 degree and VR videos on YouTube
Star Wars VR
If you love anything to do with The Force Awakens, the Cardboard experience puts you in the role of a Resistance secret agent on Jakku, the desert world that features in the film. You can feel the VR force on your iPhone or Android phone.
Google Cardboard camera
Google recently introduced the photography app that now lets you take 360-degree, virtual reality photos and view them through Cardboard. To take a suitable pic, download the app to your Android phone (iPhone support is coming), hold you phone and move it around in a circle. The app will do the rest, stitching together images and capturing audio. It even works with Google Street View VR so you can add 3D locations to your favourite locations as well.
If you want a dose of news and documentaries, NYT VR is your app. Beginning with the 11 minute The Displaced and 5 minute Vigils in Paris, The New York Times promises to post new virtual reality stories "every month or so". A little slow in use but we're sure the bugs will be ironed out. It's available for both iPhone and Android.
Google has updated its Street View app for iOS and Android and okay, okay, it's not strictly VR but it is 360-degree images from around the world that you can look around. Virtual tourism, here you come. Just tap the Cardboard icon anywhere that Pegman can access.
The North Face: Climb
A visually stunning, high production experience from Jaunt, this app lets you follow two The North Face climbers as they climb and base jump their way around Yosemite and Utah. We want to go to there. Jaunt recommends a new 5-inch or 6-inch phone and some users have reported it isn't working, so give it a try.
Immersing yourself in VR – even Cardboard – can be relaxing and this Lantern festival experience is a terrific example of precisely that. It's basically just scenes of lanterns floating on moonlit water (there's a day-night cycle) and off into the mountainous distance. Lovely.
Free, Google Play
There are a few fun little VR games and Proton Pulse is a good'un. It's a neon, arcade style brick breaker that's amusing for a quick hit. It's not just a demo either; there are a bunch of levels and all proceeds go towards development of the devs' next game for VR Vanguard V. Also, give WAA! VR a download if you have a bit of cash to spare.
A must download for anyone wanting a bit of VR culture in their lives, Orbulus brings the work of the Photo Sphere community to life, putting you dead centre of some incredible landscapes and venues. You start off in outer space and select an orb that you like the look of, simply by holding your gaze on it.
You're then placed where the photographer was but, rather than seeing a flat image, you are presented with their location around you, whether that be a city by night or an art gallery by day, in 360 degree glory.
Titans of Space
Fancy having a little look around the solar system without leaving your living room? That's possible with this app, which takes you on a scaled down (1:1,000,000) tour around space, complete with 3D models and to-scale distances between planets and moons.
You can control the speed of the tour using either a Bluetooth control pad, or simply by looking and selecting menu buttons, and there's also a premium add-on that adds 50 minutes of narration.
Free, Google Play
It would be amiss not to give an early mention to the official Google Cardboard app in this list. As well as teaching you the basics of virtual reality, it lets you fly around in Google Earth, take a Street View tour, examine a series of tribal masks, watch YouTube videos on a giant screen, enjoy a short animation of a mouse on a windy day and watch 360-degree video.
But the best feature is the ability to view photospheres captured with your smartphone's camera. By stitching together a series of photos taken in every direction, you can create a panorama that you can enjoy in your headset.
There are relatively few virtual reality apps that use your smartphone camera to layer things on the world around you, but one of the best so far is Glitcher. It lets you superimpose nine different filters on the camera input, including selective colour, edge detection and Predator vision.
But the most impressive feature is voice control. Use the magnet switch and speak commands to flip between filters, record video, take photographs and even activate the flashlight. If you don't yet own a VR headset, you can also activate a non-VR preview by pressing the volume down button.
Free, Google Play
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