Google Cardboard is one of the simplest ways to get your first taste of virtual reality technology: all you need is the cardboard headset, a compatible Android or Apple smartphone, and the Cardboard app itself.
What is Google Cardboard?
We’ve taken a look at some of the best apps currently available for Google Cardboard – and the good news is, none of them will cost you a penny.
You might already have the YouTube app on your phone. If so, you can take advantage of its 360-degree videos: just open the app and search for “#360video”. At the moment, some of the immersive videos you can enjoy involve taking part in the Isle of Man TT races, as well as diving in the deepest oceans and even exploring the surface of Pluto.
This app – which is free for phones which run the Android operating system, such as those manufactured by Samsung or HTC – lets you take panoramic photographs with your phone (you can also record sound at the same time).
These pictures can then be viewed through your own Google Cardboard set up or shared with friends and relatives. The idea is that the viewer feels as if they were inside the picture, with the ability to look around as well as listen to ambient noise to provide an even more realistic effect.
Similar apps are available on the iPhone, but expect to pay a few pounds for the best ones.
Your guide to taking 360° photos for Facebook
Android; iPhone version coming soon
This app has been developed by Google itself: essentially, it lets you take part in virtual field trips to locations all over the world.
These include the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and Machu Picchu in Peru. As well as immersive pictures and videos, your virtual guide will point out interesting sights and historical features along the way.
10 essential smartphone apps
This is a short, simple adventure game in which players travel into a subject’s brain in search of the neurons that cause mental disorder. The gameplay is simple and might remind you of the 1960s film Fantastic Voyage, in which a team of scientists are shrunk down to perform more or less the same job.
Virtual reality types explained
This is another “world explorer” app, this time from the European TV network ARTE. The films themselves are shot in a highly professional manner, with proper narration as well – which is not always the case when it comes to a lot of the latest virtual reality apps.
ARTE360 lets you climb Mont Blanc or take a trip to the opera, to name just two – and the experiences are updated and added to on a regular basis.
Predicting the future of virtual reality
Enjoyed this article? Why not sign up for our Technology and Motoring newsletter?