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

Must-try virtual reality games and apps for Cardboard

There's no getting around the fact that Google Daydream has stolen some of its thunder away, but Cardboard is still a great universal entry point into virtual reality. It's still 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 headset that works 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.

Best Cardboard apps

CINEVR

Best Google Cardboard apps: 25 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

One of the great things about VR is that it creates virtual spaces where you can experience things together with your friends. CINEVR takes that idea and puts you in the middle of a movie theater. You and up to four friends can gather together to watch videos in a giant virtual movie theater.

There's even ambient lighting and spatial audio. Plus, you and your friends can chat and react during the movie - no need to worry about ruining the experience for everyone else.

Free, App Store or Google Play

Baobab VR

One of the early demos for VR, especially Cardboard and Daydream, was the animated tale of a cute bunny meeting aliens for the first time. The short was directed by Eric Darnell, the director of the Madagascar films, and he and his studio Baobab have been cranking out new shorts for a while now. You can experience them all in Baobab's app.

Free, App Store or Google Play

Expeditions

Best Google Cardboard apps: 25 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

Google's Expeditions is a fantastic virtual reality field trip app that is now open to everyone, not just teachers taking a class of kids on a VR learning adventure. And now there's over 600 field trips to choose from.

The app will automatically buddy groups 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. Also on Daydream.

Free, App Store or Google Play

vTime

Best Google Cardboard apps: 25 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

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 customize 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.

Free, App Store or Google Play

Within VR

Best Google Cardboard apps: 25 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

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, animation and comedy from the likes of The New York Times, National Geographic, Vice and Saturday Night Live. Grab a pair of headphones to complete the fully immersive experience.

Free, App Store or Google Play

YouTube

Best Google Cardboard apps: 25 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

YouTube is fighting it out with Facebook 360 to dominate 360-degree video (and it's winning) 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 to 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

Free, App Store or Google Play

NYT VR

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.

Free, App Store or Google Play

War of Words VR

Best Google Cardboard apps: 25 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, 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.

Free, App Store or Google Play

Fulldive VR

Best Google Cardboard apps: 25 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

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.

Free, App Store or Google Play

Google Arts & Culture

Best Google Cardboard apps: 25 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

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

Star Wars VR

Best Google Cardboard apps: 25 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

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.

Free, App Store or Google Play

Google Cardboard camera

Best Google Cardboard apps: 25 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

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 favorite locations as well.

Free, App Store or Google Play

Street View

Best Google Cardboard apps: 25 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

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

Lanterns

Best Google Cardboard apps: 25 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

You ever just wanted to chill out and relax, looking out at serene water and a peaceful night sky, with only the beautiful glow of lanterns dotting your view? Well, you can do just that with Lanterns for Google Cardboard. A nice, peaceful, serene VR experience.

Free, Google Play

Best Cardboard games

VR Cave

Best Google Cardboard apps: 25 top games and apps 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

Minos Starfighter VR

Best Google Cardboard apps: 25 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.

£1.19, Google Play

VR Street Jump

Best Google Cardboard apps: 25 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

Need a VR version of mobile hit Crossy Road? Then VR Street Jump is the title you're looking for. 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: 25 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

A favorite 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.

£3.39 , App Store or Google Play

Wizard Academy VR

Best Google Cardboard apps: 25 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

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

InMind 2

Best Google Cardboard apps: 27 top games and apps for your mobile VR headset

A sequel to the very fun InMind, InMind VR 2 will put turn you into John, a teenager becoming an adult. You'll go behind the chemistry that helps shapes the human brain, and all the little things that help create a person's destiny. No pressure.

Free, App Store or Google Play

What are you downloading, watching and playing on your Cardboard and mobile VR headsets? Let us know below.


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25 comments

  • CorvusVR·

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

  • marq·

    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·

    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·

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

    • CurlySue·

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

  • techaroid·

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

  • Evert·

    BeerBox isn't free (anymore), unfortunately.

  • Derek·

    I'd give Bible VRX Lite a vote!

  • mackie·

    Yes, if you are using the cardboard boxes, just release the lid and allow the top of your phone to lean forward and it will come into focus. The focus point is about 1/2" to 1" past where it should be. I bought the vr box 4"-6" and it has focus and eye centering controls and it works quite good. Hope this helps!

  • Sik·

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

  • Logan02·

    oui


  • shaneh·

    Everyone should try Just Cause 3 (the Experience).

  • qifahs1993·

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

  • NoBody·

    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·

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

  • jumpjack·

    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·

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

    VR Puzzle Room

  • suryakumar·

    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·

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

  • VietNguyen·

  • RobLaPointe1·

    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·

    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·

    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. 

  • hls·

    ‚ÄúThe Planets VR‚ÄĚ on Google Play is a good space VR app. Valles Marineris on Mars is a good place to start. Tilt you head left and right to bank like a plane, and look up and down to ascend and descend. It should be possible for you to fly into the valleys.

    I hope you enjoy it.

  • jujudellago·

    An afternoon of experiments with my VR Box (cheap plastic) and my huawei Y9.

    I can fly, I can play, I can ride kayak, swim under the sea.... but.... not sure if it sounds stupid, but what about simply watching a movie ? I did try cinevr, and another cardboard cinema, they are ok.... but half of the space is used by this simulated cinema ! fun for 2 minutes, but horrid (to my opinion) to seriously watch a film...

    All I need is the split screen, to play a basic video so it looks big in the headset... no VR, no 3d, no movement, nothing, just play a video, anyone knows if this exist ?

    I used to have that exact behavior with my Lenovo K4, a simple click on the power button brought up a menu "switch off", "restart", "VR mode". Just turn on VR mode and the whole OS was working in split screen, allowing me to keep the headset on, using a small bluetooth joystick to browse around..... (Oh I loved that phone....)

    Found out that Kodi had a split screen mode, but it doesn't work either.

    The VR player and Var's player pro almost work, they just display 2 small sceens side by side, without the lens correction effect required to actually see something