As we make our way towards celebrating the very first birthday of consumer-level mobile VR, it’s time to take a look at what alternatives are out there for all you iPhone users. Not everyone reading this happen to have a thousand dollars lying around the house that they can just afford investing into something that might eventually end up collecting dust. For all the great things we’ve heard of powerhouse end-level headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, they sure aren’t cheap.
Mobile VR is a solid alternative to its heavily priced big siblings, and there’s plenty of great options for you. If you want to try the Rolls Royce currently available for mobile VR, there’s the ever-popular Samsung GearVR or the Pixel-phone based DayDream View. They do however, require a very particular smartphone. So, for those of you who have chosen to stick with the Apple brand, there might still be hope for you today, with a little help from a cardboard device.
Today we will be exploring the software, the experiences and games that you can take advantage of, if your smartphone of choice comes served with an Apple logo. Here’s the kicker – all of them are 100% free!
10 Best VR Apps for your iPhone
Before getting into the nuts and bolts of each individual app, we thought it would be a good idea to just mention that all of these apps are much more immersive if you get yourself a Google Cardboard, or one of the similar but upgraded alternatives such as the iPhone compatible HelloPro VR headset. Sure, it may be awe-inspiring to gaze at the wonders of 360° technology with your smartphone held high, but it truly is a different experience when you fully wrap yourself in technology.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the content. Many of today’s mentions are going to be non-interactive. The iPhone has many strengths, but being built for use with VR isn’t one of them. Because of that, we’re not going to be praising many games today. Instead, we’ll focus on the apps and experiences that will make you go: “Wow, this VR thing is truly impressive!” Without further ado, let’s get to it!
Google Street View
First up we have the Google Street View app. Over the past 10 years, Google Street View has come to the aid of many a tourist wondering: “Hey, where am I?” and has almost become synonymous with the capabilities of the Alphabet company. They have literally mapped the world. Now it’s time to take that to the next level, by fully immersing yourself in the destinations you know and love across the world. Do you want to take a trip down memory lane and feel how much simpler things were when you were camping across western Europe? no problem, Google Street View has your back. Take a virtual tour across the world from the comfort of your own home, or show your loved ones where you have been, and where you plan to go!
So – you want to see the world, do you? With VR cities built by the talented team over at Smart2IT, you get to put on your headset and instantly transport yourself to any major city you can think of. For those of you who live with a deep-rooted sense of adventure, and who wants to see what the big city looks and feels like, now is your time to explore it for yourself without having to pitch in for a plane ticket or more than 5 minutes worth of downloading effort!
When it comes to the perfect match between the cinematic and educational worlds, few can really argue that Discovery isn’t a world leader in that space. With the Discovery VR app you can explore some of the content from your favorite documentaries and series in fully immersive 360° video. Dive to the bottom of the ocean to explore an ancient shipwreck, or wander into the thickening forests of the world, and learn a thing or two every step of the way. If you have ever found yourself voluntarily deciding on a documentary on Hulu or Netflix, you really ought to take this one for a spin.
Night Terrors: The Beginning
Next up is Night Terrors, which is an immersive ghost-story horror game for your iPhone. It’s absolutely terrifying (and take that from one who have extensively covered horror-based content). What’s interesting about Night Terrors, is the way it interacts with your environment. The first thing you do with this handy little app, is scan your house, so that the horror-based scenario of the game can fully utilize your surroundings to scare the living hell out of you. The app was funded through IndieGoGo and has just released its 1.6.0 version. While it remains free for now, it’s not guaranteed to last, so get yourself a download before it’s too late.
Within VR is a world class launchpad for immersive content, and is currently the #1 VR-based app available out there for storytelling, backed up by its track-record of industry awards. Chris Milk, CEO of Within once coined the term “empathy machine” about VR in his phrase: “Virtual reality is the ‘ultimate empathy machine.’ These experiences are more than documentaries. They’re opportunities to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes”. Saying so, he hit the nail on the head. By putting you right into the center of the story, you get to explore and feel the worries and wonders of the world from a first-person perspective.
Note: Within was named the #1 VR app for iOS by Apple Insider, featured as “Best New App” on iTunes and is the most downloaded and highest rated cinematic VR app for Google Cardboard.
YouTube is a a world-leading giant, and has almost become synonymous with videos on the internet through its open-use policies and use of cat videos and viral home movies (you’re welcome internet). It’s 2017 after all, and for the past 12 years it has steadily grown more and more into our everyday routines. Back in 2015, YouTube officially stated that their platform now supported the use of immersive 360° video technology (statement here) and have since then been serving some of the most incredible, viral videos ever surfaced online. For a few examples, don’t forget to check out our best of 2016/2017 posts. Since then, YouTube has gone on to make sure that their smartphone app also supports the technology, making it easier than ever to start exploring some incredible videos. A favorite of our editorial team is the Mega Coaster by the Discovery Channel. If you watch that one, please – for goodness sake get a headset and some headphones. Your iPhone isn’t built for VR, so get yourself a cardboard device and make the most of it!
Google Cardboard – iPhone version
Cardboard is Google’s own application, and it is built specifically for smartphones and a Google Cardboard (although a HelloPro or similar headsets will work just fine). The app comes pre-installed with a handful of awesome demos for you to try out. Tour Guide, My Videos, Earth, Exhibit, Photo Sphere and Arctic Journey. When you think of the app – think of it sort of like a launch deck for your iPhone that you can use to gain access to a vast library of awesome VR content. Google Cardboard is a bare-essentials VR app, and we recommend that you download this one first.
New York Times VR (NYTVR)
Next up is NYTVR which is an application built by the team over at the New York Times specifically to give you access to the news in a new and interesting way on your iPhone. Storytelling is a powerful tool that has become even more promising through the implementation of immersive technology. New York Times and their work with VR content has earned them a lot of street cred on the VR scene as their team is constantly working on more immersive content. If you value quantity, and pushing the limits of VR as a reporting tool, you might want to pick this one up as one of your first downloads today.
Alright. We’ve been through 360° videos, horror games and some journalistic experiences, but let’s take it up a notch and move on to Jaunt. Jaunt is a library of curated content, and currently has over 100 premium, cinematic virtual reality experiences for you to try. It doesn’t matter whether or not you have a headset. By grabbing the Jaunt app through iTunes, your iPhone becomes a portal for premium VR content. Noteworthy experiences highlighted by the team are: The 5-part invisible series by Doug Liman, the ESPN college football video, the VR documentaries on Syria and North Korea, as well as the 360° Paul McCartney concert. Take it for a spin, and let’s know in the comments section what you think!
RYOT VR – Huffpost
It would seem that the world of journalism has really taken a liking to the idea of immersive journalism, as our final app today is journalistic in nature as well. The team over at Huffpost has teamed up with the immersive storytelling company RYOT to bring you news stories from around the globe, straight to your VR-based headset or iPhone powered Google Cardboard. Take a trip through the news of the week, and do so while being live right in the heat of the story. Noteworthy content include their massive, 12-step reporting series: “The Turnaround: Your World in 360°“.
Summary: 10 Best VR Apps for Your iPhone 2017
That’s it this time around. We hope you enjoyed today’s list of the best VR content for your iPhone. We hope that you feel emboldened to start trying out VR for yourself, by spending some time on the app store, testing out some of these apps. After all – all of them are free! VR may be a difficult concept to grasp, but once you try it out for yourself it’s easy to see why so many people out there are talking about it, and up-scaled headsets such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift seems to be the “next big thing” .
Thank you for your visit. If you come across an exciting VR apps for the iPhone that ought to be on our list, let us know in the comments section below. If you feel like we skipped an important app or missed out on highlighting an awesome feature, let us know in the comments section below.