Google Cardboard headset has undeniably revolutionized the world of virtual reality and made it available to everyone with a smartphone. Lots of similar products with various designs have followed while the market is blossoming with literally thousands of VR experiences, VR apps and games. We’ve studied the field and compiled the list of 25 best Google Cardboard apps in our view. Also, for convenience we’ve put them in 2 categories: free and paid.
Note: Cardboard is compatible with iOS too, though most of the apps here are for Android.
Best Google Cardboard Apps for free
How it works: Just put on Google Cardboard and enjoy a virtual reality tour through solar system. The app is a scaled down representation (1:1,000,000) of neighboring space, with 3D models, planets and moons. The app is developed for various VR devices, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, and Google Cardboard in particular. The standard Titans of Space version has also been translated into 15 languages.
Cool features: Comparing sizes of planets and moons, the dynamic soundtrack, full control of pace and depth, menu in multiple languages, drift correction mode (as experimental option so far), informational texts. Extra killer feature – 50 minutes of story narration.
User tip: Users may control the tour speed with either a Bluetooth pad or by looking and selecting menu buttons. The tour’s pace is natural and can be adjusted. During this VR tour you’ll see help and options for various things you can do. The app is still in active development, options are regularly updated.
Recommended for: Have you ever fancied a sneak peak of our solar system, planets and stars? Anyone with love for cosmic exploration and scientific stuff will definitely enjoy.
Available for: Android.
2. GoPro VR
How it works: This app can transform your smartphone into VR device that is in the heart of action. Not only watching of highly dynamic footage is possible, users may turn the whole 360 degrees, zoom in and out. Really adventurous stuff! Truly among best Google Cardboard apps.
Cool features: Pixel-precise projection, interactivity, split screen, gyroscope support, rendering and streaming. You can also upload your own 360-videos on GoPro VR and share with your friends, while other people too can find your videos through web, smartphones or VR headset.
User tip: Users can start and stop the recording, captures shots, view and download favorite shots, share images to social media, while system requirements are Android 4.4 or higher and wi-fi enabled camera.
Recommended for: Those with the spirit of adventure in their DNA and those keen on feasting their eyes on world’s beauty. Try base jumping or being a part of a show onstage.
3. Netflix VR
How it works: Currently this app comes for Google Daydream, a headset of lightweight fabric, similar to the Cardboard, as well as for Samsung Gear and Google cardboard. The app itself is great – it plays all the Netflix shows in a virtual reality viewer.
Cool features: No limitation on watching either – binge-watch “Orange is the new black” even in one sitting if you want. Netflix surely is among the world’s top subscription services for watching TV episodes and movies on your phone.
User tip: You need a Netflix subscription, or can try out with a free month. Subscribe to Netflix membership and get the unlimited shows for one monthly price, while thousands of titles are added regularly.
Recommended for: When you wish to have an intimate and emotional experience with adored Stranger Things or Walking Dead series. There is even a section just for kids. Looking for best Google Cardboard apps to select from? Look no further.
How it works: Virtual environments and settings to practice public speaking in. Now, that’s a practical use of modern-age technology! And with options to animate the audience, add natural movement and background noises one can train for an important job interview or speech so close to real.
Cool features: The app features variety of 360-degree environments (conference rooms, wedding places, etc.), animations and sound distractions from the virtual audience, the option for adding your own slides at the virtual conference presentation. The vendor also plans to add VR environments for TED-talks soon.
User tip: Load own slides into a presentation to see how will it look and whether it will fit into your speech. Activate the animated audience for more realistic effect. Word of caution: the app require quite big disc space – 123 Mb.
Recommended for: Overcoming speaking anxiety in the comfort of your home. This falls into personal productivity improvement category. Touchpad controllers are supported.
It is the famous Abbey Road Studios, where The Beatles, Oasis, Adele and Muse have recorded their hits. Now, in partnership of the studio and Google the virtual guide is available to the public.
How it works: The tour starts with a 9-part series narrated by Giles Martin sharing the studio history, from 1930s to nowadays. We may walk around and step inside of this iconic musical landmark, explore on our own. At some point we may even find ourselves in the middle of a performance by the London Symphony Orchestra. But no more spoilers, enjoy one of the best Google Cardboard apps.
Cool features: Choosing between Studios 1, 2 and 3 to roam around, plus the mastering room. Plenty of stories to discover and equipment to try out. You can even record your own track.
User tip: After the tour you can move around the recording rooms at your own interest, like for example Studio 3’s Mirrored Drum Room where Tony Bennett, Amy Winehouse and many top-of-the-game musicians have recorded.
Recommended for: Literally every single music lover, studio recording geek and art history enthusiast.
Available for: Android only.
How it works: The app brings the famous 1971 Moon landing simulation for smartphones. The rumble of the spacecraft, the descent to the surface, the walk on the moon like astronauts did. How could the 45 year anniversary of the Apollo 15 mission be better than with virtual reality relive experience? But wait, that’s not all. You can even drive the Lunar Rover.
Cool features: With real NASA data and footage this is just stunning. One extra feature for possible issues is the “half resolution” option in the main menu – select it when you notice the app running slow.
User tip: This virtual reality application requires a Google Cardboard headset, and a powerful smartphone, that’s a caution. And you are probably going to get the best experience with headphones.
Recommended for: History and space enthusiasts, curious spirits who would like to walk on the moon like astronauts Scott and Irvin did, unpack and drive the Lunar Rover.
Available for: Android only.
Google really does fascinating projects! Why not use new possibilities for education and cultural studies? Gladly they do.
How it works: For this app the tech-giant partnered with hundreds of museums, galleries and art institutions from 70 countries to let people see the exhibits online. With virtual reality support that could be better than ever.
Cool features: Virtual tours of museums and historical sites, exploring artworks and masterpieces up close wherever they may be. You can zoom in and out, browse artifacts by time period, enjoy virtual tours, daily digests.
User tip: There is ‘personal collections’ option, which means you may save your favorite artworks and share it with friends. Exploring ‘On this day’ digest can be pretty educational either for kids or adults.
Recommended for: Definitely worth checking out for everyone, especially for students, historians, political experts and analysts. As Google always does, it has provided us with one of best Google Cardboard apps as well.
8. in360 Tube
Moving on in our list of best Google Cardboard apps, let’s mention one more app for 360-videos.
How it works: The app lets you visualize and enjoy videos from YouTube in your smartphone. You may find yourself in any scene and look around as you wish. In addition, the mode to view simple two-dimensional videos in 360 is available.
Cool features: Four types of user control are available here: gyroscope mode (move a device left/right/up/down), touch mode (touch and drag to direct the action), wrap the video into a circle, fully immersive experience with VR Glasses.
User tip: In ‘cinema mode’ for 2D videos all you have to do is download the app to your smartphone, search 360-degrees videos, play it and interact with it, use the gyroscope to navigate within the video, use VR mode with the cardboard to enjoy the immersive play in VR to the most.
Recommended for: When you want to see yourself inside the virtual scenes in real time. Control your experiences in four ways: you are able to live the immersive experience, navigate within the video, touch and drag to direct the action, turn at 360 degrees to zoom in and out, wrap the video into a circle – a so called ‘little planet’ view.
How about an adventurous game? Wizard Academy, actually, is a pack of action and learning games taking place in a magical land.
How it works: Wizard Academy is an immersive action and learning games in virtual reality. Some of the challenges are labyrinths, archery, busters. Your tasks may vary from finding and shooting giant germs, solve algebra equations, destroying ice castles to find your way out of a maze, use telekinesis powers to bring back order into the world. Fun and challenging!
Cool features: There you can stroll around a village and seek for various educational and fun riddles and challenges. You are in role of a wizard walking around a city and overcoming challenges. Fire archery pushes you to remember your algebra lessons, while breaking down castles requires a basic understanding of physics. And so on. And you are not just looking around like in most Google Cardboard apps and experiences – you are interacting as in first-person game, moving around with actual arms and legs.
User tip: We should note that you may need a controller for some actions, however you may also make one by downloading a free kit. Game provider recommends the RealControl system along with the Cardboard.
Recommended for: Fans of both entertaining and educational content, seeking some fun times solving challenges and tasks in virtual reality.
10. Star Wars VR
Take on space combat as rebel fighter in Star Wars battlefront VR mission. Yet again, Star Wars hype machine is advancing on us with full force.
How it works: Virtual reality experience puts you in the role of a Resistance agent on Jakku, a desert environment from The Force Awakens. Moreover, the app also introduces an augmented reality (AR) character that comes to life after you scan the special movie poster. If you do not have Google Cardboard, there are even Star Wars-themed headsets in online stores.
Cool features: The app brings you news, rich media, social updates, special events, and interactive features related to the series. You can get notifications of announcements and releases, theme your app up with Light Side/Dark Side with sounds and animations, unlock 3D characters… Well, the list goes on and on.
User tip: This Star Wars VR app is always growing and enriching, adding more features. Users should therefore note that for the best experience it is recommended to use Android 4.1 and higher, headphones (especially for Jakku Spy and Force Trainer), and the gyroscope. We should also warn that app contains some advertising messages of Walt Disney companies.
Recommended for: Who doesn’t like Star Wars, right? And even is the app is more into the franchise trivia than VR, the fans won’t be disappointed. No one can argue this one is among best Google Cardboard apps for free.
Award-winning journalism paired with 360-degree video experience, available both on iPhone and Android.
How it works: From fighting of Iraqi forces to retake cities from ISIS to climbing the WTC, this NYT VR app brings virtual reality into actual news and documentaries. The New York Times, a powerful and globally known media organization, promises to add new VR stories into your phone every month.
Cool features: Exclusive 360-degrees videos (either for Google Cardboard or smartphone-only mode), push notifications about the launching of new films, streaming or downloading films options, spatial audio, Daydream enable option.
User tip: With with cardboard, enhance the view with Daydream. In addition to news stories in virtual reality, you may download the main NYTimes app to get the latest news in a conventional way and form on your smartphone. Users should also regularly check for new stories, as the media outlet adds more and more fascinating stories.
Recommended for: Those who want to live the stories of our day from every corner of the world where action happens. Do not believe what you read online? See for yourself how and what is taking place.
This VR app is by JauntVR, one of the leading developers of cinematic virtual reality content. They post the updates to the app constantly, as well as add more experiences like Behind the scenes of the Rogue One of Star Wars franchise, Fifty Shades Darker in VR, The Royal Opera House, World of Tank and many more.
How it works: High-quality production plus visually fascinating scenery. This app lets you follow two North Face climbers around some peaks of Yosemite and Utah. Over 150 cinematic VR experiences go with the app. A must-see, we’d say, are “Inside Syria” and “Inside North Korea” documentaries and musical performances.
Cool features: Content from ESPN, Sky, ABC News, Paul McCartney, Ryot, Bild, GreenPeace and more media.
User tip: Some of the content may not be suitable for all audiences, as there some level of violence and use of strong language – the app creator properly warns.
Recommended for: Those who are opposite of adrenaline outdoor-going junkies and prefer to do everything staying inside homes. This VR experience will transport them to distant national parks or highest mountain peaks.
13. Final Kick VR
This is the app about football, but not the American one, a classic one some of us may know as ‘soccer’. Maybe not really the app to be included in ‘Best Google Cardboard apps’, we agree, but we also love football.
How it works: Experience the play as the first person, compete against the best teams on the planet, shoot penalties, and score goals. The graphics are great, making a truly good use of VR tools so users may enjoy special effects. You just need to play moving your head.
Cool features: As a goalkeeper, you see your hands as the pointer and it moves around as you move your head. When you want to catch the ball, you literally have to use your whole body. So it can even be a kind of physical exercising.
User tip: To set direction to kick the ball in, use the head. Or move your head faster to make your kick more strong. Also, you can play local tournaments offline, with 100 competitors at hand.
Recommended for: Users who simply want to rest their mind after a hard day at work and explore simplistic virtual reality experiences. Accessible for all ages and free.
How about a fairy-tale as a VR app? This VR experience was created in partnership with BBC Research & Development audio team, and is an interactive fairy-tale for all ages.
How it works: In a magical forest, a young child meets a fantastical creature, they embark on the journey…The story flows on. What is stunning here are spatial audio and visuals. With headphones you may actually hear the creature’s teeth gnawing, birds and fish, and other sounds. The makers also warn us to ‘play it safe’, meaning following safety info from the manufacturer of the device you use, like the cardboard.
Cool features: Falling auburn leaves to create a setting to chill out seamlessly. It is great to listen to as well due to the 3-D audio and a few surprises here and there. Let’ say, fans of Falkor from The Neverending Story may be in for a treat.
User tip: Do not play if you are under the age rating, pregnant, under influence, have a medical condition, psychiatric disorders, seizures or heart problems. Make sure you are in a safe place, be aware of surroundings, and stop using The Turning Forest VR if you feel nausea, eye strain, dizziness or any discomfort.
Recommended for: Family-friendly experiences, storytelling and fairy-telling, kids’ bedtime, short movie watching, cartoon watching for all ages.
Available for: Android only.
15. BattleZ VR
To widen a range of your VR experiences, Battle Z brings a multiplayer first-person shooting game to be listed as one of the best Google Cardboard apps, though it works with Gear VR too.
How it works: In the game players team up to protect themselves from brain-hungry zombies, however there’s a twist. Players can also turn their guns on each other to score bonus points. No more spoilers, okay, one more – watch out for the dragons.
Cool features: Protecting the village of survivors from blood-thirsty zombies, shooting them down, powerful arbalest at your disposal, jumping from the rooftops but zombies can try to get you down throwing stones. Additionally, there are certain bonus powers like healing, dragon breath, etc.
User tip: To fully enjoy the battle you need a Virtual Reality Viewer and a motion-tracking controller (RealViewer or RealControl).
Recommended for: Action game admirers who are seeking for a VR game with good audio, graphics and energetic shooting.
Paid Google Cardboard Apps
1. Trinus VR
A library of games plus the possibility to convert any PC games into virtual reality experiences – this is what Trinus offers.
How it works: Apparently, not a game itself, but instead an access to a range of VR games. The app links Android phone to PC and streams games to your phone to experience them in three-dimensional virtual reality. So even when feeling nostalgic about some games from the past you may revisit those times.
Cool features: TrinusVR connects your Android phone to PC, so you can play games in virtual reality. Simply using phone sensors for head tracking. It is compatible with most of the modern-era games, SteamVR support for games without VR controllers. Compatible with all headsets including Google Cardboard, Homido, FreeFly, VR One, GearVR, Durovis Dive, wireless gameplay (or with USB connection).
User tip: We recommend trying out a free demo first to make sure it all works before you order a paid version. All you need is a headset of your choice, Android phone, a PC on Windows and app itself.
Recommended for: Gaming geeks with a lot of free time to spare, willing to explore VR worlds in 360-degrees without annoying wires hanging around, using Windows 7 or newer OS version.
2. Proton Pulse
Visually amazing and rich, Proton Pulse with head tracking controls to move around the game screen.
How it works: The goal of this brick-breaking arcade is to bounce various objects back to where they came from. Direct your Proton, an energy ball, and to paddle, bounce and destroy. More than 50 levels. So far the game is ranking very favorably among players, 5-star average. The arcade looks just as good on Android (4.4 or higher) as on desktop.
Cool features: This VR game features a refined original soundtrack of 18 songs by famous chiptune genre composer Moravetz, aka Rave-TZ along with some other artists. First initial version is for Google Cardboard currently, though new and improved versions are going to be released soon for Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift CV1, PlayStation 4 Morpheus as well.
User tip: Use not your head but track motion controllers, and play the game in a room. Most reviewers say Proton Pulse is one of Google cardboard apps that shines on HTC Vive. You can also back down only when a paddle makes contact with a ball.
Recommended for: Fans of third person brick breaking action game in fast pace and virtual reality headsets. Gameplay is mostly based on head tracking, as subtle movements dictate the position of paddle.
A treasure quest in the deep jungle? Now, that’s a good way to overcome a daily routine.
How it works: Escaping from an ancient mysterious temple before its undead inhabitants get to you, finding and collecting items, solving tricks and riddles, discovering secret chambers. Point-and-click and use motions to explore full 360-views in the middle of the adventure.
Cool features: Immersive VR adventure, detailed 3D environments, classic gameplay, intuitive controls, full 360-degrees view, complete 3D positional sounds, offline play mode, tablet support. Thrilling quest guaranteed. Hidden jewels and golden treasures await.
User tip: Hint black powder to blow up walls but be persistent with it (‘spoiler alert’ – look near old pirate remains). You should better move around slow not to miss clues and to discover every inch, it’s worth the effort.
Recommended for: Are you into adventure and exploration? Fan of solving puzzles and unearthing the ancient mysteries? This is for you exactly plus you can combine it with new VR sensation.
4. I See Ooo VR
Adventure time! “Play as Finn to take on righteous challenges and help discover why the Ice King is such a party pooper” – states famous Cartoon Network, the creator.
How it works: Exclusive to Android phones, you need to enter a unique code to unlock the game. A special VR viewer is included in the game package, though Google Cardboard will do the trick too. It is basically a set of mini games and puzzles to play in VR. Cartoon Network delivers the quality content as usual.
Cool features: Unlike many Google Cardboard apps that are cheap largely to only give a preview, this VR app is the actual full experience. Though it lacks in length, as it may seem.
And that’s not all so far, as certain extra features are on the way. These are going to include a puzzle mini-game, new achievements and scores, more new characters, and a whole new story line.
User tip: The task is to try to rescue characters like Jake, Princess Bubblegum and Party Pat, and find items and party food on the way. But first the sequence is the following: assemble the viewer, load the app to smartphone, insert it in the viewer, bring it to your head and see the world of Ooo-s. Use the cursor with eyes to navigate.
Recommended for: Any Adventure Time series fan will appreciate, as well as kids of 7+ age.
Available for: Android only.
The title with too many ‘A’s screams right away about the breath-taking stunts that await you, and Google Cardboard is good enough. A a custom version of the game with the screaming name also, designed specifically for VR headsets.
How it works: In seriousness, this is nice immersive experience of jumping off buildings while doing stunts. Tilt controls and hands free. You jump from buildings in the US city of Boston city, you perform stunts weaving around for points.
Cool features: In the process you have to make instant decisions – do you stroll around those girders to earn more kisses or glide along the side of the skyscraper for hugs? Then you fall down and can spray paint government buildings for more points.
User tip: It can be played either seated or standing. The jumps you make from buildings are all about style and timing. “Over 0 unique levels… Yes! More than zero! It’s true” – creators of this obviously have a sense of humour.
Recommended for: Seekers of adrenaline and a taste of civil disobedience, those curious about ‘What is all this hype about virtual reality is you say”, Android community activists.
Available for: Android.
6. BombSquad VR
It’s a fast action game from Eric Froemling, a computer-graphics genius from San Francisco.
How it works: This is a great arcade game where you need to avoid bombs, capture flags, and other obstacles. Competitive spirit held up high, as you can play with up to eight players going from one level to another. User reviews point out a similarity to Super Mario but ‘with explosions’. With the app comes a regular version unlocker, meaning you can play the non-VR version as well.
Cool features: Throw various types of bombs at enemies, snare them in your traps and try not to blow yourself at the same time, hear the ridiculous voices of characters. It’s very challenging.
User tip: BombSquad VR requires an external controller to play. You can use the app on another device, but you need a hardware game-pad. Moreover, app is quite demanding on hardware – make sure your device runs the regular version of BombSquad before trying BombSquad VR.
Recommended for: Fans of various challenges, different rules and situations, goals that keep VR gaming fresh and interesting. And explosions. We want more explosions!
7. Relax VR
After fast-pace bombing and gaming, it will be a proper time to relax and take some time to calm down with quiet outdoor meditation.
How it works: A serene natural hideout with 360-degree videos of three gorgeous locations in Australia and Portugal. You select a natural scene, put your phone into the Google Cardboard with headphones, choose between a guided meditation or just calming music, relax in incredible beauty, relax your mind and get rejuvenated.
Cool features: The Yoga Nidra meditation along with peaceful music, instructions in both male and female voices will fill your spirit with ethereal joy. More than 100,000 people have already relaxed in virtual reality with this app, featuring 360 videos of beautiful natural landscapes in high definition.
User tip: To use Relax VR one needs a mobile phone and a compatible virtual reality headset. Beside Google Cardboard, these might be Samsung Gear VR or Daydream. Download the app and use the headset. In addition, game creators recommend closing the during this VR meditation. Why? They claim it has a positive physiological effect of better relaxation
Recommended for: Anyone experiencing stress or anxiety, seeking relaxing environments and meditation techniques, those seeking to emotional and physical health, particularly those living in cities.
The first-person space shooter, Minos Starfighter was previously called End Space VR. A great showcase of Android VR possibilities that can be close to PlayStation. Killer Star Wars spinoff.
How it works: Essentially, this is a wave-based shooter that places you in futuristic-looking battles against enemy starfighters, with nicely animated ships. It features one-trigger click gameplay, or if your VR headset has no button, there is option to play just with gaze navigation.
Cool features: There are three environments to explore and an upgrade system to motivate players. This VR app features fully immersive VR experience, 3D sound, 3 crafted space environments, gameplay with progressively harder enemies, detailed ship models, score sharing.
User tip: Disable VR mode in the main menu, or disable the Trigger option in case if your headset does not have a trigger button. Most Bluetooth and USB gamepad controllers are supported for shooting only. Minos Starfighter VR is best experienced with headphones. And finally, you may share scores with friends and compete across social networks.
Recommended for: Google Cardboard owners, Star Wars fanatics, or both at the same time, we’re sure those of you exist. If you’ve ever dreamed of trying yourself as starship captain, your dream has come true.
9. Lava Inc.
Lava Inc. is currently available for as little as $0.5 at the Google Play Store for Android. And it arrives at the proper timing as Google itself has recently been making a big push for Cardboard – they announced over 500,000 units have been sold and used as of the start of 2017.
How it works: The plot goes like this – Lava Inc., a fictional organization that refines lava, has its factory closed for weekends some of employees have decided to have some fun. They’ve created a kind of roller coaster experience through the building, that is deep underground, has various puzzling rooms and contains a lot of lava…
Cool features: A roller coaster ride, full of adrenaline, speed and rapid descents, red-hot lava pools, various rooms and halls, numerous elevation changes,
User tip: Use head movements to control a roller coaster and its speed when playing with Google Cardboard or buttons with other VR headsets. To speed up a ride players only have to lean forward a bit, and similarly, to slow down or stop you have to lean back. Entirely intuitive and works nicely.
To keep it live, the game has few short track sections that can not be controllable by players. So you just rely on laws of physics instead, to hurl around corners. Those parts of the ride are of green color.
Recommended for: Anyone willing to experience virtual reality’s fun and breath-taking side for a small amount of money. Although, those twists and turns, ups and downs may cause a slight nauseous sensation, so act carefully.
Available for: Android.
10. VR Tank
This is one of the award-winning indie Google Cardboard apps, so a top-level VR game is guaranteed.
How it works: With tropical trees surroundings the mission is to drive an army tank and destroy enemy targets. Driving a tank gives you a real-time simulation similar to Battlefield 3 and 4 games. Quite unique!
Cool features: The tank itself is as realistic as it gets with modern 3D technology. Natural sounds of battle, war raids and shooting in stereo 3D will make you forget everything around.
User tip: Use headphones for immersion to the full extent. Just like many other Google cardboard apps, you can play with 360-degrees head movements and the eye focusing on targets.
Recommended for: Fighter spirits willing to experience something more grueling, realistic and thrilling, go for the battle tank action in virtual reality.
Did we miss some of the best Google Cardboard apps? Share yours!