Use the Google Cardboard VR headset with an iPhone

A few tantalizing apps show that Google's DIY VR exercise doesn't have to be limited to Android devices.

google-cardboard-iphone-5.jpg
Google Cardboard does work with iPhones, provided you have the right apps. Photo by Rick Broida/CNET

Calling all iOS app developers! It's time to get cracking on 3D.

You see, last month Google unveiled an odd, unexpected, and thoroughly entertaining proof-of-concept: Google Cardboard, a homemade virtual-reality headset which pairs with your smartphone for a pretty sweet VR experience.

Of course, this being a Google product, it's exclusively for Android devices, right? Wrong! There are at least five iOS apps that work with Cardboard, all of them proof-positive that app developers may want to consider supporting the platform.

Want to see for yourself? For starters, you'll need the "hardware." Google's plans for a DIY Cardboard are readily available online, but you can also buy a readymade kit for as little as $20. For purposes of testing, I used one of Unofficial's Cardboard kits with my iPhone 5S. It worked fine, but I suspect a smaller iPhone (like the 4 or 4S) might actually prove a bit too small. If you're building a kit yourself, you can customize the dimensions to better fit a smaller screen.

From there, it's just a matter of finding compatible apps. So far, I've found five:

dive-city-rollercoaster-ios.jpg
Take a wild ride in stereoscopic, head-tracking 3D. Stefen Welker

Dive City Rollercoaster: Designed for the Durovis Dive VR headset (apps for which also work with Cardboard, though most are for Android only), Dive City is currently the ultimate showcase for what the technology can do. You're strapped to a racing, corkscrewing roller coaster, but you can look all around as you ride. Barf bags not included.

moorente.jpg
Duck Hunt meets Google Cardboard. Die Etagen GmbH

Moorente: From the German for ferruginous duck, here's another game designed with the Durovis Dive (but definitely not PETA) in mind. Just "aim" your gun at an overhead duck (in other words, keep it in your crosshairs for a second or two) and blammo! And, well, that's about it. But it's still a pretty amusing little diversion.

Stereoscopic Tunnel Effect: Take a non-stop tour through a hypnotic tunnel. By default, the app isn't configured for 3D, so tap the screen and enable stereoscopic rendering before slipping your iPhone into Cardboard. You may also want to adjust the position of the screen divider.

the-height-for-ios.jpg
Afraid of heights? You will be. Stefen Welker

The Height: More of working game demo than anything else, The Height challenges you to explore a 3D-rendered scaffolding, collecting items as you go. To start or stop walking, you must look down at your feet for a few seconds. (Like, literally look down.) Very cool, but not for those afraid of heights.

3DTube: YouTube is home to lots of 3D videos (mostly movie trailers, but still). This paid app helps you find and view them -- though it turns out you really don't need it. Instead, fire up the stock YouTube app and just search for "3D trailers for 3D glasses," then play any video that's split into left and right halves.

Have you found any other games or apps that offer the stereoscopic 3D view Cardboard needs to work its magic? Here's hoping developers start retrofitting their current offerings -- or creating new ones!

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

Last-minute gift ideas

Under pressure? These will deliver on time

With plenty of top-notch retailers offering digital gifts, you still have time to salvage your gift-giving reputation.