Android VR apps for smartphone
The market for virtual reality hardware has exploded. The release of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and a huge range of VR headsets you can use with a smartphone, means consumers have more choice then ever before when deciding which VR headset to invest in. Let’s find out what the best Android VR apps for smartphone are.
As the hardware market has exploded, so has the software and application market. Games, apps, interactive experiences, there is a huge range of things to use your headset for.
All of this choice is fantastic, but for anyone new to the VR space it can be a little confusing. What are the best games? What are the essential apps to make the most of your new headset?
Today, we’ll look at the top VR apps available right now, and which serve as excellent introductions to the VR experience.
Following my recent post on the best Android VR headsets, I’m going to focus on software available on Android devices.
I’ll be looking at the best VR headsets and apps for Apple’s iPhone soon – watch this space and sign up to the newsletter to be kept up-to-date about new posts.
Firstly, while the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are now widely available, they do require quite a significant investment. On top of the VR headset you will also need a high-powered gaming PC to power the headset.
If you’re interested in building a PC for the Oculus Rift take a look at my earlier post.
If you’re working with a slightly smaller budget there are a wide range of Android headsets available now.
Here’s an overview of some of the best VR apps for smartphone, that are available for download right now.
Google is betting big on VR, launching a dedicated YouTube VR app allowing you to experience the best of VR videos and content from publishers around the world.
The current app allows users with VR headsets to experience 360-degree videos, and to watch VR videos using the Google Cardboard headset/viewer.
The technology is now baked into the YouTube app, and will get a significant update when Google rolls out its Daydream VR platform later this year.
This is expected to enable voice search for VR users, and (like the YouTube we know and love) will suggest VR videos based on your previously-viewed content.
For the moment though, anyone with an Android VR headset can enjoy a good range of VR videos, including a virtual ascent of Everest, a 360-degree experience of Netflix’s hit Stranger Things and trailers for the latest films (anyone for fright flick The Conjuring 2 in VR? Anyone?), and tonnes more.
Sisters: A VR Ghost Story
If there’s one genre embracing the VR explosion wholeheartedly, its horror.
There is a huge range of games and apps available now to scare the bejesus out of you in virtual reality.
This is a genre I’ll be returning to for a future post on VR horror, let me know if you have any recommendations, and sign up to the newsletter to keep up to date with my posts.
Chief among these is Sisters. I don’t want to spoil the plot, but the game provides a disturbing and terrifying look at the potential VR has for offering truly scary experiences.
The game features a first-person ghost story, set in a haunted mansion during a storm.
You’re alone (or are you?) in a spooky-looking room, with nothing but ominous-looking dolls and creepy sound effects for company.
It’s a frankly terrifying experience, so maybe make sure you play this during the day time.
Orbulus presents VR users with a way to experience some of the world’s most spectacular sights from the comfort of their own home.
It provides a way to view a huge gallery of images created using Google’s photo sphere, by YouTubers around the world.
Upon loading up, users are presented with a range of floating orbs in front of them.
You can select these to experience 360-degree interactive photo spheres.
Experiences range from standing in a snowy field, to a panoramic view of spectators enjoying fireworks. and there are literally hundreds more, download it and take a look.
The Jaunt app allows you to experience story-driven worlds using your smartphone. There are a range of adventures on offer: a virtual mountain tour through Nepal, taking part in a 360-degree fashion shoot with Derek Zoolander (AKA Ben Stiller), or how about fighting offers zombies in Zombie Purge?
The application of VR extends beyond zombies and cheap frights.
InCell VR is an educational experience designed to throw players into the human body as a cell as they try and outrun a rapidly approaching virus.
It’s educational and fun at the same time. Plus, it shows the breadth of experiences that can be captured in VR.
Playing the game feels like a strange mixture of Mario Kart and WipeOut – it’s certainly unique – and it has a soundtrack to match.
WAA! (When Asteroids Attack)
WAA! casts you as a astronaut with the task of finding and destroying asteroids outside of your space ship.
The game lets you achieve this by giving you a range of weapons and tools, including homing missiles and shields.
You can also collect a range of resources to improve your aim, adjust gravity levels and restore health.
If you’d rather experience adventure sports like hang gliding from the comfort of your armchair, the Android Hang Gliding experience is probably for you.
Donning your headset and firing up the app places you in a hang glider flying above a rich and detailed Alpine landscape.
Tilting your headset left and right allows you to steer the glider, and explore the mountains.
It’s a free experience that you can download for Android smartphones now.
This is another app for armchair thrill seekers.
If you’d rather stay at home than go to the amusement park, firing up Rollercoaster allows you to experience the excitement of being on a rollercoaster, while allowing you to get off at any time.
The app lets your roller-coast your way through a range of settings including through the middle of a city and across desert islands.
There’s plenty more too…
If you’re interested in getting your own Android VR headset so you can enjoy these experiences first hand, be sure to check out my post on the best VR headsets for Android.
It introduces you to the best VR headsets available now for anyone with an Android smartphone.
If you’re more interested in ‘serious’ VR and building a PC to allow you to use the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, take a look at my guide to building an Oculus-ready gaming PC.
It talks you through the system requirements for Oculus the hardware you need and outlines the price to get up and running.
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Have you got any other VR apps for smartphone that I’ve missed, or overlooked? Let us know in the comments.