While Google Daydream has stolen some of its thunder away, Cardboard is still a great universal entry point into virtual reality. It's the most affordable and universal way to get your VR hit.
Cardboard is 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 mobile VR headsets you can pick up, all for decent prices. Just look out for the Works with Cardboard badge.
Here's our pick of the best VR-enabled apps and games you can find in the Google Play Store and the App Store right now.
Just because you don't have a fancy, expensive headset, doesn't mean you can't hang out in virtual social networks. vTime is totally cross platform so you can interact with friends using different hardware (including phones via the Magic Window feature).
You can share regular and 360-degree images or just customise your avatar and start chatting in one of 20 VR environments, including armchairs in outer space. It works over data or Wi-Fi and you can even take vSelfies within the app. Well, no social network is complete without them.
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. The ever growing library includes short movies, documentaries and comedy from the likes of the New York Times and Saturday Night Live. Grab a pair of headphones to complete the fully immersive experience.
YouTube is fighting it out with Facebook 360 to dominate 360-degree video but there's also categories to indicate true VR experiences. From VR music videos to virtual tours of random offices you'll probably never step foot in and even animated 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
If you have kids then you may want a way to experience educational VR with them. Enter Google's Expeditions, a virtual reality field trip app. You can do two things: lead excursions for a group of kids or just follow them together. The app will automatically buddy you together when you're on the same Wi-Fi network, and you'll be able to go the African plains, inside the ISS, to Jupiter and more. As the leader, you're given information to relay and the ability to point things out within the app. As the adventurer, you can just sit back and enjoy the show.
If you want a dose of news and documentaries, NYT VR is your app. There are major new experiences uploaded very regularly now, and smaller 360 videos uploaded daily. It's available for both iPhone and Android.
Jaunt puts together high-production VR experiences, releasing new ones every once in a while. Some of them are short, quick journeys dumping you into a world while others are long-form original series.
Jaunt regularly teams up with major partners to make these. For instance, Bourne Identity director Doug Liman has a featured series, and there are behind-the-scenes VR experiences from the set of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and one at Manchester City football club.
Science news can be interesting all by itself, but imagine if you could combine it with immersive VR. Well, that's exactly what Discovery does with its VR app. It pumps out three types of pieces: DNews Labs, short news stories that put you into the science-y action; Let's Go Places, excursions to places like on wreck dives; and Discovery Presents, short documentaries about various subjects, like malaria.
War of Words VR
A lot of poetry can have a natural, hypnotic rhythm, but that's hard to get that across to someone in a non-auditory format. War of Words, a short VR experience pulled from BBC's War of the Words: Soldier-Poets of Somme, manages to translate the poem into a thrilling experience. It features an immersive and thrilling version of The Kiss, a poem written by Siegfried Sassoon before World War I's Battle of Somme in 1916. Plus, it's narrated by Michael Sheen.
Oceans have been done plenty of times in VR. But 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
Minos Starfighter VR
Minos is a first-person space shooter best enjoyed while sat in a swivel chair (but standing is fine too). You'll be blasting other ships as your enemies become progressively more difficult, but be sure to take in the impressive visuals too. This is a decent demonstration of how good VR can be even on cheap headsets like Cardboard.
$0.99, Google Play
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 the Land of Ooo, another snowball fighting against penguins to rescue Adventure Time characters like Jake, BMO and Princess Bubblegum.
$7.50, Google Play
VR Crossy Road
Mobile hit Crossy Road makes the leap to VR with impressive results. The basic mechanics of the game lend themselves well to virtual reality, as you hop across a sequence of roads and try to avoid getting splattered. If you've ever played Frogger, you'll know what to expect.
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 damn good for a Cardboard VR game.
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, as well as browse the internet. There's quite a lot you can do including taking your own VR photos, stream 360 YouTube videos. Support for streaming your computer screen in VR is on its 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 this is another we think is worth checking out. You can explore artwork, artefacts 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.
Star Wars VR
If you love Star Wars, and especially The Force Awakens, the Cardboard experience from a galaxy far, far away is for you. It puts you in the role of a Resistance secret agent on Jakku, the desert world featured in the 2015 film. You can feel the VR force on your iPhone or Android phone.
Google Cardboard camera
Google doesn't just want you to consume VR experiences with Cardboard, it wants you to create them. The Cardboard camera lets you take 360-degree, virtual reality photos and view them through Cardboard. To take a suitable pic, download the app to your phone, open up the camera, point ahead of you and slowly twirl around. 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.
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.
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.
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.
There are relatively few virtual reality apps that use your smartphone camera to layer things on the world around you, but one of the interesting 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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