Best VR apps for watching virtual reality videos and viewing photos on Android

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Best VR apps for watching virtual reality videos and viewing photos on Android
Virtual reality (VR) on smartphones didn't really make a huge impact since its peak around 2015, but even to this day, there are those who enjoy watching 3D movies and YouTube videos immersively. Especially now that most people don't have the option of going to the cinema, smartphone virtual reality is a viable, close-enough experience.

And if you're not one of those people, you may want to consider it, as all you need is your smartphone and one of the many Google Cardboard-compatible headsets, such as the two below.

Android VR apps on this list:

  1. YouTube VR / YouTube
  2. iPhotoVR SBS VR Photo Viewer Cardboard / Slideshow
  3. VaR's VR Video Player

YouTube VR / YouTube

Supports: VR YouTube video viewing | Download on Google Play

As YouTube VR isn't available on all phones, we'll start with the stock YouTube app, which supports simple and easy virtual reality viewing.

First you need to find a VR video on YouTube, the easiest way being by searching for the keyword "180vr", for example: "180vr roller coaster". Simply play the video, and you'll notice that you can move the camera position by tilting your smartphone. You'll also find a Google Cardboard icon on the bottom right of the video, which you can tap to enter virtual reality viewing mode.

As for the separate YouTube VR app, it's available on Google Daydream-ready smartphones, and it's arguably one of the best and most polished Android VR experiences, offering a fully immersive interface.

VaR's VR Video Player

Supports: VR and non-VR video and photo viewing | Download on Google Play

VaR's VR Video Player is the jack of all trades of Android VR players. It can play any videos, in 360° or 180° VR, or non-VR, and more. In fact, it pretty much supports all VR formats, on top of having an impressive amount of customization for things such as lens distortion, eye distance, and zoom.

It doesn't take long to set it up perfectly according to your headset and preferences, and to start enjoying the movies on your device. It can play them in either static VR, where the movie is fixed in the center of your field of vision, or dynamic VR, where you can look around and get a cinema-like big screen experience.

It's image viewing is a bit buggy and awkward, however, which is why we have the next app on this list, which specializes in photo viewing in VR.

iPhotoVR SBS VR Photo Viewer Cardboard / Slideshow

Supports: VR and non-VR photo viewing | Download on Google Play

iPhotoVR is a super lightweight, ad-free app that lets you view both "normal" (2D) and 3D photos in virtual reality. It has a very handy feature for navigating through photos via your smartphone's volume buttons, which means no additional controllers or fumbling with the headset are required in order to go trough photos.

It can display any photos in both side-by-side 3D mode, and normal 2D. It's main downside is the lack of customization of how the photos appear, as different headsets may require adjusting the position, scale, and distortion of the images on-screen. This app features no options for that, except a very underdeveloped photo scaling.

When was the last time you used a virtual reality headset with your smartphone? Do you feel like mobile VR will make a comeback, or is it on its way out for good?

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