The Best Cardboard VR Apps

BY GreenBot Staff

Published 3 Oct 2016

Cardboard is Google’s do-it-yourself gateway into virtual reality. Letting you strap your Android phone into a cardboard shell with a couple of lenses immerse yourself in 3D worlds. It’s pretty cheap and easy to get started. There are dozens upon dozens of compatible apps.

First assembled this list in 2015, but the selection has improved significantly. We’ve responded in kind. If you’re starting with Cardboard or looking for fresh ways to utilize entry-level VR solutions. These are the first 15 apps and games worth experiencing, most of which are free. And remember, the split images are stitched into a single scene once it’s in your face.


The cardboard starter app is an excellent hub for the overall experience, collecting the compatible apps you’ve downloaded. Pushing you toward others, even giving you a little taste of the 360-degree experience within the menu. But it also has fun demo experiences that aren’t found elsewhere.
The Earth demo is elegant, although very lo-fi; you can fly around cities. Which are roughly rendered and have flickering textures, making them unintentionally dreamlike. A tour guide lets you view Versailles with narration. The exhibit shows off cultural artifacts that you can see from all over. You can also view any videos or photospheres you have saved locally.

   Cardboard (Free)

Cardboard Camera

Google’s own Cardboard Camera is an anomaly on this list. While most Cardboard apps want you to experience their VR creations, this app lets you build your own. The easy-to-use app uses your phone’s camera to quickly capture a moment via a panoramic circle around you, then turns it into a 3D experience viewable with Cardboard.
It’s fantastic, given how speedy and straightforward the process is. You can add a little narration or background noise for the atmosphere. Imagine capturing an immersive look at an old home before moving, a beautiful vacation locale, or an event you never want to forget. Fire up the Cardboard Camera and relive it whenever you please.

Cardboard Camera (Free)

The Bohemian Rhapsody Experience

Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody is instantly recognizable and widely beloved. It has used the shape-shifting rock classic to provide one of the most imaginative Cardboard apps. The Bohemian Rhapsody Experience delivers a 360-degree dreamscape that bounces from scene to scene. Still, it’s a little bit more interactive than a regular music video.
With a mix of cartoonish band member performances, small bits of archival footage, and some surreal moments, the VR experience spans the nearly six-minute song. It gives you something neat to see all around. And since some of the animated elements respond to how you move and look around, it’s worth enjoying multiple times.

The Bohemian Rhapsody Experience (Free)

Jaunt VR

The jaunt was one of Cardboard’s first big content producers, turning out apps with live 360-degree concert footage from artists like McCartney Rock Nite. Now they’ve pulled those early apps off the Play Store and replaced them with a single Jaunt VR app, which acts like a hub for its myriad video experiences.
Those concert clips are still available, along with others. Still, Jaunt VR now offers more than 100 different Cardboard VR experiences, including immersive sports travel footage, brief documentary scenes, and quite a bit more. Along with the previously-listed things, it’s a one-stop destination for taking in many free 360-degree VR video content.

Jaunt VR (Free)

Within VR

Amongst VR apps designed to dazzle, the thing formerly known as Verse is one of the best. Evolution of Verse, the star attraction, is a short film full of surreal imagery. A train chugs through a lake until it smashes into your position, then bursts into thousands of winged creatures that transform into confetti. It takes a weird twist at the end, the video is just a few minutes long, but it’s worth watching a couple times and sharing with friends.
And the app has added a fair bit more since being one of the earliest Cardboard standouts. There’s a Mr. Robot VR Experience, some mini-documentaries, U2 Muse music videos, and more. All of it is free, too.

Within VR (Free)

Proton Pulse Plus

Easily the most fun I’ve had with a Cardboard game, Proton Pulse essentially puts a 3D spin on Breakout or one-player if you haven’t played the old classic. In this case, you’ll move your head to shift the translucent paddle in front of you and use it to bat a bouncing ball to clear the blocks floating around the playing field.
It’s a simple concept, but it’s a lot of fun for a game that relies entirely on head movements. Credit that, in part to the super crisp, vibrant graphics, which expertly depict the depth of each stage, really show the benefit of gaming in VR. But mainly, Proton Pulse is just a classic, tried–true gaming premise that’s smartly tuned for headset play. And it’s a blast.

Proton Pulse Plus ($2.99)

Star Wars

With the success of The Force Awakens under Disney’s command, Star Wars is utterly inescapable again. If you consider that a remarkable thing, you’ve got some Cardboard action to look forward to. Fire up the official Star Wars app and hit the Jakku Spy menu for some brief time, Force Awakens-inspired immersion.
You’ll find a handful of clips inspired from the film, including sights of rolling droid BB-8 and the Millennium Falcon, all viewable in 360 degrees by looking around you. They’re very short and don’t really serve an essential narrative purpose within the film or universe, but it’s a neat way for fans to get the first taste of Star Wars in VR.

Star Wars (Free)

YouTube VR

Nearly everyone with an Android phone has YouTube installed. Did you know that the video giant also now has proper Cardboard support? Recently updated, the service with full Cardboard functionality for 360-degree videos, which means you can view a video, look freely in all directions, and see the footage with added depth.
Not only do support videos have free-look depth, but there are also a relatively select few videos that are compatible now. But there’s exciting stuff on there; the list will only expand. And anything that isn’t specially encoded can still be viewed in Cardboard via a digital wall projected into your makeshift headset.

YouTube VR (Free)

New York VR

The New York Times clearly sees a future with immersive storytelling, as the company sent out more than a million Cardboard viewers to subscribers and launched its own VR app simultaneously. New York VR still tells the kinds of enrapturing stories the newspaper is known for. But does it primarily by letting the subjects tell their own tales as they soak in the surroundings.
For example, you’ll see the Paris vigil to the November 2015 terrorist attacks gripped the city as citizens describe why they visited. Or follow three refugee children in a documentary about the worldwide crisis. It’s not always a fun subject matter like most VR stuff, but with compelling content, you won’t want to look away.

New York VR (Free)


Not to be confused with Google’s Cardboard app, Caaaaardboard is a VR conversion of the entertaining AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!!. An awkwardly titled indie game about freefalling through score gates while spray-painting the buildings on the way down.

It’s easy to see why it makes for an engaging VR experience; it is effortlessly entertaining. You don’t have to tap anything or use a controller. It’s about subtly shifting your gaze as you fall, which you’ll do to avoid smashing into buildings or racking up a chain of score boosts. It looks great, it’s a lot of fun, and it’ll also test your balance if you opt to play Sting Up. Bonus!

Caaaaardboard ($2.99)

Titans of Space

Virtual reality is a fantastic tool for experiencing things we may never easily see with our own eyes. What’s more unlikely than a trip into the solar system’s outer reaches? Titans of Space kicks your planetarium’s stiff models to the curb, delivering a guided tour that zips you between planets’ moons.
The pulsing, slightly haunting music adds drama to this quick quest. Which looks great and helps you learn about the configuration of the solar system and the comparative sizes of each planet or moon. You can purchase optional narration if you please, which can make this star cruise even more appealing.

Titans of Space (Free)

Street View

Most of us know Street View as the best way to scope out a Maps destination from eye level. However, it has expanded the feature to become something akin to virtual tourism; it has its own Android app. With Street View, you can pull up tours of worldwide locales and view them as 360-degree photospheres with Cardboard.
The sights are often spectacular, whether exploring Yosemite, scoping out the Miniature Wonderland model railway in Germany, or viewing other famous familiar sights from around the world. You can even share your photo sphere captured at the moment; check out other user creations around the map.

Street View (Free)

Vanguard V

Here’s another VR game that’s fantastic for the mere minutes it lasts, as it’s simply a demo for a still-in-development project. From the same developer of Proton Pulse comes a space shooter akin to Star Fox and others of its like. Only now, you’re controlling the armored heroine by subtly moving your head.

Visually, it’s the best thing I’ve played in VR; everything moves fluidly, with lots of effects and pulsing lights hooking you into the world. There isn’t much to the gameplay here, as you’re simply staring at threats to shoot them out of space; even then, it didn’t feel like the shots always came when I expected them to. But it’s an enrapturing demo that I’ll play again and again until the full version eventually releases.

Vanguard V (Free)


All this is unsettling. If you’re fond of shock-value horror films, you’ll surely get a kick out of Sisters. It’s a brief experience set in a room during a thunderstorm. The pair of young girl dolls might grab your attention. Especially when one disappears, the door opens. And then the other goes missing. And indeed, when you look, I will not ruin it for you.
It’s designed to freak you out; you better believe that having a headset on your face amplifies the effect. Even when expecting an eerie surprise. Based on Sisters’ effectiveness, you can bet that the Play Store will have many more lightly interactive VR scare sessions like this in the future.

Sisters (Free)


Many VR apps for Cardboard are now more demos of what could be rather than full-fledged experiences. That’s definitely the case with War of Words VR. It’s also the shortest of the immersive worlds showcased here. But it makes a strong impression within just a minute of your time.
War of Words builds a small scene around The Kiss, a Siegfried Sassoon poem. Written during World War I. Which acts out the floating text’s grim subject with a rifle and a few soldier silhouettes. Touching the bullet whiz from the chamber to its target. You spin around helps drive the message in an obvious way. The app shows a lot of promise for what could be done with more elaborate work.