The Best Cardboard VR Apps (TEM DON’T BSH)

BY GreenBot Staff

Published 17 Jan 2016

Don’t be Card-bored
bestcardboard lead2

Cardboard is ’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  easy to get started, there are many dozens of apps to download.

The selection has grown significantly since we first assembled this list in early 2015, so we’ve exped improved our picks. ether you want games, 3D video content, or other fun curiosities to dig into, these apps should amuse you for some time. And nearly all of them are free, to boot. (Remember: the split left/right images merge into one 3D experience when you use the headset.)

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‘s Cardboard starter app serves as a nice hub for the overall experience, collecting the compatible apps you’ve downloaded pushing you towards 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 especially neat, although very lo-fi: you can fly around cities, which are roughly rendered have flickering textures, making it unintentionally dreamlike. Tour Guide lets you view Versailles with narration, Exhibit shows off cultural artifacts that you can see from all over, plus you can view any videos or photospheres you have saved locally.

Cardboard (Free)

Cardboard Camera
bestcardboard cardboardcamera

’s own Cardboard Camera is an anomaly on this list: while most Cardboard apps simply 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 kind of amazing, given how speedy straightforward the process is, plus you can add a little bit of narration or background noise for atmosphere. Imagine capturing an immersive look at an old home before moving, a beautiful vacation locale, or an event you never want to forget—simply fire up Cardboard Camera relive it all over again whenever you please.

Cardboard Camera (Free)

bestcardboard vrse2

Among VR apps designed to dazzle, VRSE is one of the best around. 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 thouss of winged creatures that again 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 sharing with friends.

And the app has added a fair bit more since being one of the earliest Cardboard stouts: there’s a mini-documentary about a Syrian refugee camp, a VICE News doc about the Millions h in New York City, U2 Muse music videos, more. l of it is free, too.

VRSE (Free)

oton lse
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Easily the most fun I’ve had with a Cardboard game, oton lse essentially puts a 3D spin on Breakout—or “one-player ng” 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, use it to bat a bouncing ball to clear the blocks floating around the play field.

It’s a simple concept, but for a game that relies entirely on head movements, it’s a lot of fun. 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, oton lse is just a classic, tried–true gaming premise that’s smartly tuned for headset play. And it’s a blast.

oton lse ($1.99)

Star rs
bestcardboard starwars

th the success of The Force Awakens under Disney’s comm, Star rs is utterly inescapable again— if you consider that a very good thing, then you’ve got some Cardboard action to look forward to. Simply fire up the official Star rs app hit the kku Spy menu for some brief, Force Awakens-inspired immersion.

You’ll find a hful of clips inspired from the film, including sights of rolling droid BB-8 the Millennium Falcon, all viewable in 360 degrees by looking all around you. They’re very short don’t really serve an important narrative purpose within the film or universe, but it’s a neat way for fans to get a first taste of Star rs in VR. 

Star rs (Free)

bestcardboard youtube

Nearly everyone with an Android phone has YouTube installed, but 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, see the footage with added depth.

ed, only supported videos have the free-look depth, it’s a rather select few videos that are compatible at this time. But there’s really interesting stuff on there, the list is only going to exp— anything that isn’t specially encoded can still be viewed in Cardboard via a digital wall projected into your makeshift headset. 

YouTube (Free)

bestcardboard nytvr

The New York es clearly sees a future with immersive storytelling, as the company sent out more than a million Cardboard viewers to subscribers— launched its own VR app at the same time. NYT 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 you soak in the surroundings.

For example, you’ll see the ris vigil to the November 2015 terrorist attacks that 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 “fun” subject matter, like most VR stuff tends to be; but with content this powerful, you won’t want to look away.

NYT VR (Free)

Caaaaardboard (SAME)
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Not to be confused with ’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 truly is effortlessly entertaining. You don’t have to tap anything or use a controller: it’s all about subtly shifting your gaze as you fall, which you’ll do to avoid smashing into buildings or try to rack up a chain of score boosts. It looks great, it’s a lot of fun, it’ll also test your balance if you opt to play sting up. Bonus!

Caaaaardboard ($2.99)

Titans of Space
bestcardboard titansofspace

Virtual reality is an amazing tool for experiencing things we may never easily see with our own eyes— what’s more unlikely than a trip into the outer reaches of the solar system? 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 helps you not only learn about the configuration of the solar system, but also the comparative sizes of each planet /or moon. You can even purchase optional narration, if you please, which can only make this star cruise even more appealing. 

Titans of Space (Free)

Street View
bestcardboard streetview

Most of us know Street View as the best way to scope out a Maps destination from eye level, but has exped the feature to become something akin to virtual tourism— it has its own Android app. th Street View, you can pull up tours of all sorts of worldwide locales view them as 360-degree photospheres with Cardboard. 

The sights are often spectacular, whether it’s exploring Yosemite, scoping out the Miniatur nderl model railway in Germany, or viewing other famous familiar sights from all around the world. You can even share your own photo sphere captured in the moment, check out other user creations around the map.

Street View (Free)

ck ite: THIRD-D (SAME)
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unt is making its case for VR with concert footage from notable acts, if ck ite isn’t your thing, then perhaps  McCartney will do the trick. But while Macca’s app just has one song for now, ite’s free THIRD-D offering has three tracks shot in a couple different locations, providing much more to see.

And the locations help make the performances memorable. ite his b perform “Dead aves the Dirty Ground” in the outdoors Red Rocks Amphitheatre while a thunderstorm pummels the stage, with lightning in the background ite even slipping falling in the rain. The other songs were shot at Fenway rk in Boston, which itself proves a majestic setting to look around freely while lights flash raucous music plays.

ck ite: THIRD-D (Free)

Vanguard V (SAME)
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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 oton lse comes a space shooter akin to Star Fox  others of its ilk, only now you’re controlling the armored heroine by subtly moving your head.

Visually, it’s the best thing I’ve played on Cardboard: everything moves fluidly, with lots of effects pulsing lights hooking you into the world. There isn’t much to the gameplay here, however, 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 again until the full version eventually releases.

Vanguard V (Free)

Tilt Brush Gallery
bestcardboard tiltbrush

‘s Tilt Brush is a 3D painting app designed for the HTC Vive, a high-end, -based virtual reality headset— it looks seems truly fantastic. Tilt Brush Gallery, on the other h, is a much simpler affair designed for your phone Cardboard: it lets you watch those 3D paintings being made, digital brushstroke by digital brushstroke. 

ile surely much less creative immersive, it’s still really neat to see 3D paintings come to life in front of you have the ability to view them from any angle. For now, the viewer app just has examples, but it looks like you’ll be able to tap into online galleries for user-created works once the Vive is released. 

Tilt Brush Gallery (Free)

Sisters (SAME)
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ll, this is unsettling. If you’re fond of shock-value horror films, then 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 then surely when… look, I’m not going to 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 you’re expecting an eerie surprise. Based on how effective Sisters is, you can bet that the ay Store will have many more lightly interactive VR scare sessions like this in the future. 

Sisters (Free)

r of rds VR (SAME)
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Many of the VR apps available for Cardboard right now are more demos of what could be rather than full-fledged experiences, that’s definitely the case with r of rds 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. 

r of rds builds a small scene around “The Kiss,” a Siegfried Sassoon poem written during rld r I, acts out the floating text’s grim subject with a rifle a few soldier silhouettes. tching the bullet whiz from the chamber to its target as you spin around helps drive home the message in a very visible way, the app shows a lot of promise for what could be done with more elaborate works.

r of rds VR (Free)