Best Google Cardboard apps: 26 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

Must-try virtual reality games and apps for Cardboard
​The best Google Cardboard VR apps

While Google Daydream has stolen some of the thunder away from the company's own cheaper Cardboard VR headset, Cardboard is still a great universal entry point into virtual reality. Not to mention 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 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 the App Store right now.

Discovery VR

Best Google Cardboard apps: 22 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

Science news can be interesting all by itself, but imagine if you could combine it with an immersive medium. Well, that's exactly what Discovery does with its VR app. It pumps out three types of content: DNews Labs, short news stories that put you into the science-y action; Let's Go Places, excursions to places like symphonies; and Discovery Presents, short documentaries about various subjects, like malaria.

Free, App Store or Google Play

Expeditions

Best Google Cardboard apps: 22 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

If you have kids then you may want a way to experience VR with them - perhaps in a way that can be educational and fun. Enter Google's Expeditions, a virtual reality field trip app. You can do two things: lead excursions or just follow them. 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 NASA 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.

Free, App Store or Google Play

War of Words VR

Best Google Cardboard apps: 22 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

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, an extremely 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.

Free, App Store or Google Play

Within VR (formely VRSE)

best google cardboard apps

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 are 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.

Free, App Store or Google Play

VR Cave

Best Google Cardboard apps: 20 top games and demos for your mobile VR headset

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

VR Crossy Road

Best Google Cardboard apps: 22 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

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.

Free, App Store or Google Play

Hidden Temple

Best Google Cardboard apps: 20 top games and demos for your mobile VR headset

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.

$3.99, App Store or Google Play

Minos Starfighter VR

Best Google Cardboard apps: 22 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

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

Best Google Cardboard apps: 20 top games and demos for your mobile VR headset

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

Bohemian Rhapsody Experience

Best Google Cardboard apps: 20 top games and demos for your mobile VR headset

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.

Free, App Store or Google Play

Fulldive VR

best google cardboard apps and games

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. Compatibility for Netflix, Hulu and Roku are all on the way.

Free, App Store or Google Play

Wizard Academy VR

best cardboard apps

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.

Free, App Store or Google Play

Google Arts & Culture

best cardboard VR apps

Google has produced some solid VR and 360-degree content, and this 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.

Free, App Store or Google Play

Chair in a Room

best cardboard VR games

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

best cardboard apps

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.

Free, App Store or Google Play

YouTube

best cardboard apps

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

Free, App Store or Google Play

Star Wars VR

best cardboard VR games and apps and experiences

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 film. You can feel the VR force on your iPhone or Android phone.

Free, App Store or Google Play

Google Cardboard camera

best google cardboard apps

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.

Free, App Store or Google Play

NYT VR

cardboard VR apps

If you want a dose of news and documentaries, NYT VR is your app. There are major new experiences every month or so, and there are smaller 360 videos uploaded daily. It's available for both iPhone and Android.

Free, App Store or Google Play

Street View

Street View now has Cardboard VR support

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.

Free, App Store or Google Play

Jaunt VR

Best Google Cardboard apps: 22 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

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.

Free, App Store or Google Play

Proton Pulse

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.

$1.99, App Store or Google Play

Orbulus

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.

Free, App Store or Google Play

Titans of Space

best vr apps and games

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

Google Cardboard

best cardboard apps

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.

Free, App Store or Google Play

Glitcher VR

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


Shop for VR headsets on Amazon

Oculus Rift
Oculus Rift
$499.99
PlayStation VR
PlayStation VR
$399.99
HTC Vive
HTC Vive
$799
Samsung Gear VR
Samsung Gear VR
$79.99

Wareable may get a commission


23 Comments

  • CorvusVR says:

    Check out the Google Cardboard app I made: Make it Rain VR

  • marq says:

    Check out "Insects 2" you can also find it if you do a search for BowersLLC in the google playstore.

    In this first person shooter episode 1, you'll incorporate the newly developed point walk/stop system. Stay tuned for episode 3 with complete inventory system to top off this series with a full blown RPG.

    Story:

    The people of Earth are finally starting to populate the universe. You're marine space astronaut Sergeant Major Bowers sent to Mars to clear out this insect infestation and ready the planet for habitation. Upon your arrival (episode 1) you are surprised to see a space ship. It was always believed these insects lived beneath the surface of the planet but it turns out we might have been wrong. You decide to investigate the origins of the ship and head inside.

    Instructions:

    - Look at the footprints for 2 seconds to start the auto walk features. Look at them again to stop.

    - Look at the insects for 1 second to start the auto shoot feature. Simply look away to stop shooting.

    Hints:

    Retrace your steps! This game is a maze of doors and trigger events. If you get stuck, you have probably missed a key or a room somewhere.

  • Manikness says:

    Google has done it again by giving a common man to use the Future technology at affordable price. I Just bought my first  Google Cardboard and it was an amazing experience and installed VR apps after reading your article. Truly an Outstanding experience. Highly Recommended Buy Google Cardboard

  • Sorduea says:

    Have you tried that drunk simulator one yet that was on reddit? It is called beerbox

    • CurlySue says:

      You mean the one that's mentioned in this article??

  • techaroid says:

    Nightmare VR apps is really nice one and better than Insidious VR or Sister VR app.

  • Evert says:

    BeerBox isn't free (anymore), unfortunately.

  • Derek says:

    I'd give Bible VRX Lite a vote!

  • Sik says:

    Can we play coz with cardboard  will it works with canvas mega 4g q417

  • Logan02 says:

    oui


  • shaneh says:

    Everyone should try Just Cause 3 (the Experience).

  • qifahs1993 says:

    hello...why my vr apps display became small?its not full screen

  • NoBody says:

    Wizard academy and Germ Buster vr add hand interaction with a basic DIY controller. By far the most immersive and interactive app out there.

  • Denis9 says:

    For me, Insidious is the only game that made me thank myself for investing into VR so far.

  • jumpjack says:

    The "VR killer application" is a VR+AR app: Augmented Reality in 3d in immersive fashion thanks to VR headset!

    But till now I can only see apps which are VR-enabled or AR-enabled; the only VR+AR apps just change colors of what camera sees! Developers should join effports to build apps which superimpose 3d objects to what camera sees!

  • SoftKitty says:

    Just released this guys, VR Puzzle Room, an escape room in VR. Mind checking it out? 

    VR Puzzle Room

  • suryakumar says:

    All the above stated mostly works with gyroscope,In some cases If the mobile doesn't have Gyroscope which games and apps are best in that situations. There are some players and google cardboard app/camera all work with the gyroscope.

  • ted says:

    You missed Fulldive VR--its a content platform with over 1 million VR videos and games for the Cardboard.

  • VietNguyen says:

  • RobLaPointe1 says:

    Really amazing list of top apps in VR..

    Try this for check great apps like this at software developers inc 

    they are developing the apps and free apps also listed 

    Hope this will be interesting 

    http://bit.ly/2c0PqVC

  • RobLaPointe1 says:

    Thanks for this post.. check the similar top apps of VR at software developers inc

    page get connected with experts of VR developers and develop ur apps 

  • Daliman says:

    great site. Can't believe that no one has suggested what to do if phone has no gyroscopic capabilities,  there has to be a way.

    Or am I being an English saddy. 

    Thanks. 

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.