We’ve rounded up our choice of the best virtual reality applications on the market. We’ve chosen across platforms and themes to pick apps with standout features, sheer terror, or pure entertainment. Throwing in, of course, a few excellent education choices, and one or two for kids large and small.
Best Social Virtual Reality Applications
#1 Facebook 360
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, announced this week at the Oculus’ Connect conference his aim of 1 billion virtual reality users. Of course, he would say that when Facebook own Oculus Rift! But with a mission to bring virtual reality to so many, we couldn’t ignore the Facebook 360 app.
Facebook 360 has more than 25 million 360 photos and more than 1 million 360 videos which have been published on Facebook. There is a feed of 360 content from your friends, who you follow and your saved items.
You can view public 360 content which has been posted by media companies, organisations and individuals. Or, create, post, and share your own 360 content. If you are a content creator, Facebook has a suite of tools to help you optimise your video as your post it. There is even a heatmap which shows you which parts of your 360 video viewers found most interesting!
Facebook plans to add more social features to the app launched earlier this year.
Platform: Samsung Gear VR
#2 AltSpace VR
Not all virtual reality social apps are cross-platform, AltSpace VR is, which puts it ahead of many. It’s compatible with Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. In the app, you can hang out with other headset wearers, watch streaming videos and share virtual web browsers.
It’s a virtual chatroom app where you can meet, and meet with, people globally. There are free live events and interactive games. The activities include music, comedy and YouTube personalities. You can play golf, explore, or paint. There is also a 2D mode for Mac or PC.
Platform: Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Google Daydream, 2D.
Best Education and Entertainment Virtual Reality Applications
#3 Fulldive VR
Fulldive VR is a navigation platform for finding virtual content from across the net. It includes a virtual reality video player, browser, camera, photo gallery, and a marketplace to see even more apps and games. It works with Google Cardboard and Google Daydream and has a free printable controller.
You can find, navigate and download apps to use within the game, so you don’t need to down your headset to move to something new. You can search around 1 million videos and hundreds of virtual reality apps. There is a Fulldive community, so you can find out what everyone else is watching, and you can customise and curate your feed of content.
Platform: Google Cardboard, Google Daydream
#4 Google Arts and Culture
Google really goes to town with their interactive tours and Google Arts, and Culture is no exception. In typical Google style, they have worked with over 1,200 museums and exhibits to deliver virtual tours and exhibitions. For art fans and students, you can search by colour and time to find exactly the pieces you want to review. Then zoom right in for a closer look.
You can learn art history in true virtual reality through thousands of photos and videos. Take a guided tour by an expert, sign up for a daily digest of learning, or save your favourites. If you’re visiting a gallery or museum in real life – point your device camera at an exhibit to learn more about it with the app. As with Google Street View in virtual reality and Google’s Exhibitions, Google really does some excellent educational and entertaining content.
Platform: Google Cardboard, Google Daydream, PC.
Best Virtual Reality Games
#5 Star Trek Bridge Crew
Who doesn’t want to stand on the bridge of the enterprise? You don’t have to be an avid trekkie to desire that experience, so we had to include StarTrek Bridge Crew in our best virtual reality applications. Created by giants Ubisoft, it’s time to explore space in virtual reality.
It’s a multiplayer game so you can work together with friends as officers of the federation. There are four roles available including a captain, and you can play with friends, alone, or switch crew positions yourself. This does get complicated with trickier missions. The game supports cross play and is, in essence, a space shooter.
Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive
Price: 49.99 EURO
#6 The Climb
A game that’s exclusive for Oculus Rift- The Climb – you can experience virtual cliffhangers – for real, climbing in the massively detailed scenery. You can jump around the globe, hang from cable car wires and aircraft, or slip from unstable ladders at gut-wrenching heights.
The sound effects add to the whole experience and there no doubt that virtual vertigo is a real thing. If you don’t like heights, this might not be the app for you. The developers are continually improving the game and testing it on real climbers for maximum reality. They have just released a new update – North, which adds locations in the Arctic and Iceland.
Platform: Oculus Rift Only
Maybe we’re a little fascinated with how much you can scare yourself in virtual reality. Our second game choice is Dreadhalls. You can creep through spooky dungeons, pick locks, open doors and hope your lamp holds out. Check behind you and run like hell when you’re attacked, genuinely scared stiff!
Described as a horror dungeon crawler, you need to escape the dungeon creatures with no weapons and just your wits. The map also changes every time you play, so you never know what to expect. The game has just launched for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
Platform: Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive.
#8 Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
We love the idea behind Keep Talking, and Nobody Explodes. It’s a multiplayer game, but only one headset is needed. One player wears the headset and has to dismantle a ticking explosive. The twist is that the wearer doesn’t have the manual, the other players do. So, you’re relying on quick talking, descriptions of what you can see, a bit of puzzling, and some excellent instruction.
Termed a cooperative video game, it’s a unique opportunity to get some friends together for a challenge. We also love how it mixes virtual reality with a bit of real socialisation and encourages some good old-fashioned talking. The headset wearer is immersed and feels like they are about to be blown up by the ticking bomb – be prepared for a little yelling! Disarming a different bomb every time involves your friends solving challenging puzzles. It can also be played on PC.
Platform: Google Daydream, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PC.
Best Virtual Reality Applications For Kids
#9 Disney Movies VR
We’ve included big kids and regular sized ones in this inclusion. If you are a Disney fan of any age, you’ll love this free app from Disney. Be transported into the magical worlds Disney owns. Explore Cinderella’s Castle, the Avengers Tower, or indulge your Star Wars obsession by flying through the ruins of Jakku.
Platform: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift.
#10 Colouring VR
Again, not just for kids! It’s a simple, virtual reality colouring book. You can immerse yourself in the picture entirely while picking from your virtual colour palette. We can’t really say much about this simple colouring app, just download it, choose your scene, select from a vast palette of colours and play…
Platform: Google Daydream View
Price: Free (In-app purchases)
Our choice of the 10 best virtual reality applications comes from a lot of different sectors. From gaming to colouring books and applications that help with sightseeing. There’s everything from entertainment to education. All of them are also pretty easy to use so you don’t have to worry about the difficulty level!
What is your personal choice of the best virtual reality applications? Share with us in the comments below!