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7 Google Cardboard apps to play with while you wait for Oculus Rift

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These Google Cardboard apps will give you a VR experience for the price of a cardboard box

We can talk about Oculus Rift until we’re blue in the face – and to be honest, we’re not far off – but the hotly anticipated virtual reality headset is still some way off being ready. Last week at SXSW, Oculus’ inventor Palmer Luckey admitted that the Rift may not even arrive during 2015, keeping the future of gaming firmly in the future for the time being.

Sorry, don’t be sad. You’ll be pleased to know that Google’s VR headset – the one that you can make yourself out of a cardboard box – is ready now, and all you need to do is fold it into place and pop in your smartphone. Google Cardboard apps may not be setting the world alight in the way that we hope Oculus will, but that’s not the point – for now it’s cheap, disposable and fun. So, while the wait continues for a Rift release date, get a taste for VR with the following free apps.

The 7 best Google Cardboard apps

1. Cardboard

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First thing’s first, the official Google Cardboard app is a must-have. This not only the place to launch and discover new apps, but there’s also a chance to travel the world with Google Earth, examine cultural artifacts and YouTube videos from every angle, and enjoy excellent short VR animations like Windy Day (above).

Get the app

2. Sisters

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It’s not the first time we’ve said it, but VR gaming wants to scare you death, and depending on your disposition, that can be a beautiful thing. This frightening potential should be fulfilled by the time Oculus Rift rolls around, but for now there’s Sisters – an immersive ghost story that’s every bit as eerie as the above screenshot suggests.

Get the app

3. Orbulus

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Like the Google Earth options from the official Google Cardboard app, Orbulus takes you to stunning locations around the world and gives you chance to experience them (almost) first-hand. So, whether it’s the peak of a mountain or the Natural History Museum, pick an orb and let Cardboard whisk you away.

Get the app

4. Proton Pulse

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If smartphone games have taught us anything, it’s that the simple ones are often the most addictive. Google Cardboard apps are no different and Proton Pulse is a case-in-point, giving a VR facelift to classics Pong and Breakout with addictive results.

Get the app

5. War of Words VR

It’s not just games that virtual reality can bring to life, and War of Words is a great example of how the technology can go beyond them – even enhancing the written word. The app takes the viewer back to 1916, creating an immersive VR experience out of Siegfried Sassoon’s controversial poem ‘The Kiss”. Although just one poem is currently available, if the quality of this app is anything to go by, we’ll be seeing a lot more of this sort of thing in the future.

Get the app

6. Jack White: THIRD-D

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Music is another field in which virtual reality could yet play a big role, allowing you to relive performances by your favorite bands as immersive 360-degree experiences. Jaunt Inc. offer a couple of Google Cardboard apps of this kind, and while Paul McCartney performing ‘Live and Let Die’ is worth a look, this three-song Jack White app is the best showcase for the technology.

Get the app

7. Glitcher VR

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Finally, Glitcher VR is one of only a few Google Cardboard apps out there to make use of your phone’s camera. The app allows you to play around with filters and effects in a live environment, altering the world around you with an impressive selection of digital tools. Augmented reality as it’s finest.

Get the app

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