Explore the top VR Apps for your Android device or iPhone. Also learn about their types, features, and select the best Virtual Reality App:
This tutorial looks at the best virtual reality app that we can look to as evidence that virtual reality is implemented in every field, sector, and industry.
We already discussed the use of virtual reality and now, in this tutorial, we will discuss the various types of best virtual reality apps for iPhone, Android, for Mac, and Windows platforms.
What You Will Learn:
- Virtual Reality Applications
- List Of Virtual Reality Apps
Virtual Reality Applications
This tutorial will explain the most critical characteristics or features to incorporate when developing the best VR apps. This information is targeted at developers of these applications. We will also review the different top VR developing platforms that developers can use to come up with top VR apps of all kinds.
Types Of VR Apps
The difference in apps can be thought of as in gaming or non-gaming. In the non-gaming category, we have a thorough list of apps for healthcare, education, training, entertainment, and other categories.
VR applications can are also categorized as mobile apps for smartphones and desktop apps. Otherwise, the types of VR apps can also be categorized depending on what features they support.
The below image explains the immersion in VR means the experience of the sense of presence in virtual environments:
#1) Immersive First-Person
It is thought to be categorized in the immersive first-person type of virtual reality. This type of VR involves placing the user inside the 3D images himself as an avatar or other 3D representations. It then assigns some human properties to the representation.
These properties include the ability to virtual walk, so the user feels like they are in fact doing things inside virtual environments through the avatar.
Virtual representation of hands in a VR environment:
It may also incorporate not only the visual but also aural and tactile perception.
#2) Through-the-window Apps
This type can be categorized as the type of VR known as through-the-window. This kind is installed on the desktop PC and the virtual world is seen through the desktop computer monitor. The VR world is controlled using a mouse or other device.
Like the immersive first-person apps, they offer the first-person experience with the virtual worlds.
In the below image Second life virtual environments being viewed through a PC app:
For further details pls visit – VR for PC.
#3) Mirror World Apps
These apps provide a second-person user experience. The user representation is located outside of the virtual world, but the user through his representation can interact with the characters inside the primary virtual world. The systems use a video camera as the input device. An example of mirror worlds VR is applying tabletops as touchscreens and pencils into magic wands inside a classroom.
Characteristics/Features to look for in top Virtual Reality apps are as follows:
This is the most critical factor so far for the best Virtual Reality apps for iOS, Android, and those apps targeting Windows, Mac, and other devices.
Does it provide first-person VR experiences? If yes, does it extend to supporting haptics and tactile, or possesses just visual perception?
For better immersion in the best free or paid apps, the content should imitate the objects and areas you want to use the app for. Second, it should provide life-size objects.
- Through-the-window virtual reality applications are more suitable for medical applications where the user may not perform best with a VR headset strapped on the head.
- Immersive virtual reality applications are an ideal choice for gaming, entertainment, training, and other applications.
- Mirror world virtual reality applications are a perfect choice for social media and virtual management tasks.
#2) Cross-platform: Usable on Multiple Platforms
Supporting on mobile phones is an enormous stride because the VR app will provide on-the-go VR experiences. This includes desktop and tablet support as well as support for multiple operating systems like Android, iOS, Mac OS, Linux, Windows, and across different VR headsets.
It has the ability to be viewed or used on the browser, achieved mainly through apps supporting WebVR. It means the user does not need to download software and that they can use any device to access the VR content even as 2D or with VR headsets.
Additionally, support for 2D as an option for viewing the content is crucial for those who can’t afford VR headsets or other more specialized devices for viewing the VR content.
Ask if it can load or support content and object formats from Unity and other development platforms apart from the one you are using. Can it be extended to support and be usable by your business partners’ platforms like medical institutions for medical VR apps.
#3) Ease of use, better experience in navigable and browsing, best refresh and rendering rates, good HD graphics for content, and proper and smooth transition when being controlled with controllers.
#4) Have amazing and valuable content. Do you want to develop an app for medical education, for instance? Let the app deliver its promise to load content that makes it perform its role.
List Of Virtual Reality Apps
Here is a list of top VR Apps:
- Jaunt VR
- Second Life
- Titans of Space
- Google Earth VR
- YouTube VR
- Full-dive VR
- Cinematic VR
Comparison Table Of Best VR Apps
|App||Our rating |
(out of 5)
|Top Features||Pricing ($)|
|Jaunt VR||·Concerts, videos, movies streaming. |
·Supports iOS, Android, HTC Vive, Oculus headsets, Microsoft Mixed Reality headsets like the HoloLens, PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear VR, and cardboards.
|Second Life||·Expansive virtual worlds. |
·Supports PC and mobile clients like the Second Life Viewer, Firestorm, Singularity, and Lumiya mobile client.
|SineSpace||·Virtual worlds |
·Supports HTC Vive, Valve Index, and Oculus Rift.
|Basic is free, Premium package costs $9.95 all the way to $245.95 per month for Elite package for largest region size with premium features.|
|Altspace VR||·Works with VR headsets (Vive, Oculus, Gear VR) or without a VR headset in 2D.|
·Collaborative virtual worlds and meeting spaces.
|Titans of Space||·VR game.|
·Works with Oculus, Steam and cardboard headsets.
|Google Earth VR||·Visit every mapped location in the world in 3D and VR.|
·PC, web and therefore on every device in 3D, VR on Steam, Oculus, HTC Vive headsets, and Cardboard headsets.
|YouTube VR||·Browse and watch VR experiences, videos in VR and 3D on the web.|
·Download to watch offline on smartphones using Oculus and Steam and Steam-compatible VR headsets.
|Free with option for additional $12 per month YouTube Premium subscription.|
|Full-dive VR||·iOS and Android app for watching VR videos, apps and games.|
·Earn cryptocurrencies watching videos, and playing apps and games in VR.
|Littlstar||·Watch and browse free, VR videos, movies, television shows, photos and more.|
|Basic is free but subscription is $4.99 per month billed annually for premium content.|
|With.in VR||·Watch documentaries, horrors, experimental work, and animated work in VR.|
·PC, tablet, iOS and Android smartphone, and on the web, and supports DayDream, Gear VR, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, SteamVR, Viveport, and WebVR.
Review of the popular Virtual Reality apps:
#1) Jaunt VR
Jaunt VR is from a production company that offers story-driven virtual experiences.
- Some experiences include live VR concerts, VR videos, 360 degrees shoots with personalities, military celebrations in places like Korea, and VR movies. The app also hosts horror shoots like the Black Mass Experience.
- It is one of the best iPhone apps although it also works on Android, HTC Vive, Oculus headsets, Microsoft Mixed Reality headsets like the HoloLens, PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear VR, and cardboards.
Website: Jaunt VR
#2) Second Life
Second Life is the largest known free virtual world by Linden Lab, and it has millions of cubic kilometers of virtual land already built for any user to explore. It also has a digital economy–meaning users can create, sell, and buy virtual land and virtual items like avatars and clothing with virtual and real money. At one time, Second Life had close to a million user accounts.
- Users can visit the virtual worlds through different PC and mobile clients like the Second Life Viewer, Firestorm, Singularity, and Lumiya mobile client.
- These viewers also support viewing of OpenSim content or content built using OpenSimulator software.
- On the viewers, users can visit virtual land and objects by their links, browse through the content and even teleport, fly and hop to many expansive and amazing virtual spaces in 3D. This can be done best without a VR headset because Second Life doesn’t work well with Oculus or other VR headsets unless you use supported software such as Firestorm.
- Some mobile clients may play this content in VR using mobile VR headsets.
- Firestorm, a viewer that opens Second Life and OpenSim, now supports virtual reality. This enables users to play the content on Second Life or OpenSim with Oculus Rift S, VorpX Oculus development kit 2.
Website: Second Life
Sinespace mimics Second Life:
SineSpace allows PC users to create, sell, buy virtual land and other items, and explore the spaces using HTC Vive, Valve Index, and Oculus Rift. Users can add full-body avatars to feel more like digital persons when exploring the virtual spaces they own.
- It even has an in-world economy powered by NFT non-fungible cryptocurrency tokens for selling and buying tokens and storing virtual world value.
- Currently, it works on PC through a PC client, and the content can be viewed in 2D on the client or with the said VR headsets. However, the company has said that it will develop mobile clients to enable users to enjoy VR or 2D content on their phones, with or without VR headsets.
You can also look out for Singularityhub.
Price: Basic is free, Premium package costs $9.95 all the way to $245.95 per month for an Elite package for the largest region size with premium features.
Meeting scenes in AltspaceVR:
AltspaceVR is one of the best free VR apps suitable for enterprises that want to host virtual meetings, live shows, classes, events, parties, and the likes, from all over the world.
- It works on Windows and via a link; you get to invite people to attend to your events either with a VR headset (Vive, Oculus, Gear VR) or without a VR headset in 2D.
- The Bigscreen free social VR app allows you to collaborate with others remotely, live in real-time. For instance, a company can use it with virtual employees and friends remotely in VR. It can be used this way for remote events and meeting hosting, teaching, watching movies together in theaters, and many other ways.
- It works for Oculus Rift and Rift headsets and Steam-powered headsets.
Among the social VR apps, on top, you will get the Plex Movie app for Oculus, cardboard, and Gear VR to roam with friends in live VR.
Other collaborative and remote working apps include the Connect2, Immersed, InsiteVR, Meetingroom.io, IrisVR, MeetinVR, REC Room, Rumii, Sketchbox, and SoftSpace.
#5) Titans Of Space
VR educational app Titans of Space works with Oculus, Steam, and cardboard headsets.
- It is one of the best VR apps for kids and students who enjoy a guided virtual tour of space, planets, moons, stars, and everything in between. It works the same way with another VR tour app called Within.
- Works with Oculus, Steam and cardboard headsets, and Android devices.
- The InCell VR, another one of the top VR apps for kids and adult students, enables you to explore and learn human body cells and organs in 3D as you travel inside around fighting the flu. The Star Chart VR allows you to explore the solar system from your headset, while the InMind VR takes a miniaturized version of you into the ins and outs of the human mind to learn about mental depression and how to solve it.
If you are an enterprise looking for VR tools to connect with students, then you can check out paid Engage VR. It can host up to 50 students in a class. Other top VR apps in this category are Glue and Somnium Space apps for PCs.
Website: Titans of Space
#6) Google Earth VR
StreetView in Google Earth VR:
Google Earth VR enables you to visit amazing sites and landmarks in VR on Steam, Oculus, HTC Vive headsets, and Cardboard headsets. It starts you off in space, but you can zoom in on any location in the world with a bird’s-eye view of the location. Also, one of the best VR apps for kids and students doing geography and history excavations.
- Google Expeditions is a browser-based app from Google.
- It is one of the virtual reality tour apps that enable you to explore and virtually travel to countless destinations around the world in 3D. These, of course, are virtualized versions of real-world travel destinations many people like. You can also explore 3D anatomy of the human body in addition to other VR experiences.
- Supports VR on Steam, Oculus, HTC Vive headsets, and Cardboard headsets.
Other VR tour apps include VR Mojo Orbulus that enables you to explore the universe, travel destinations, and artifacts; Sites in VR and Ocean Rift, which enables you to explore underwater spaces, wildlife, and marine; YouVisit; and Veer, among many others.
Website: Google Earth VR
#7) YouTube VR
The below screen is of YouTube VR app on Oculus Go:
With the normal YouTube app, you can choose to either stream the countless VR videos and experiences posted by different channels on YouTube–which is done by selecting the Watch in VR option on the app or to tune in to YouTube’s virtual reality channel.
- The New York Times VR allows you to watch immersive news content in 3D or VR.
- You keep up with updates daily with recent videos and VR immersive experiences.
- There also is the option of downloading the videos to play them later on your preferred virtual reality headset.
In this category is the Netflix VR app, Google Cardboard app, and Littlstar apps, which allows you to play numerous VR videos and content from Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube on smartphones using Oculus and Steam and Steam-compatible VR headsets.
Price: Free with options for YouTube Premium subscription at $12 per month.
Website: YouTube VR
#8) Full-dive VR
Full-dive VR is a mobile app:
Full-dive is one of the best iOS and Android VR apps that host millions of VR videos, photos, and now over 500 games, all on a single platform. You simply install it and have access to all of this user-generated content on your smartphone, and the games will also offer endless hours of entertainment.
- The app also enables users to create their custom videos, games, and other VR experiences.
- Users who sign up and start watching or playing the content can earn cryptocurrencies like the Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ether, just by browsing through the content.
- You can also browse through YouTube videos.
- In addition, the app allows browsing of the Internet in VR, taking and viewing pictures in VR, as well as storing and accessing pics in VR.
- There also is a VR store where you can browse VR apps, VR market, and Lauer.
- It works for cardboards and Daydream viewers.
Discovery VR also works in the same way, enabling you to enjoy VR content right from your phone and with or without a VR headset.
Website: Full-dive VR
Littlstar app enables you to watch movies, videos, and shows in VR:
Littlstar allows you to watch for free VR videos, movies, television shows, photos, and more.
- You can watch this content on whether or not you have a virtual reality headset for your PlayStation 4. It supports stories in the traditional, 3D, 360, 180 degrees, and even AR.
- You get sporting content, content for kids, theater, and other kinds of content. You can also create and upload your own VR content for others to watch.
- On a premium subscription, you can watch VR and 360 degrees content from creators like the Theta TV, New Form, Whistle Sports, and Engage, and others.
- In addition, you get to earn ARA rewards interacting with the app, and these can be spent in paying for licenses for movies, music, and other things. You also get library tools on the app where you can organize your videos, music, films, art, and shows.
Price: Basic is free, but the subscription is $4.99 per month billed annually for premium content.
#10) Within–Cinematic VR
Within comes on this list for its support of documentaries, allowing users to watch documentaries in VR.
Within the app is for story-telling in VR, and besides the many documentaries, there also are music, horror, experimental work, and animated work.
- They even produce and stream a series called The Possible, produced in partnership with Mashable and General Electric, the series trains or teaches the audience different technologies and technological breakthroughs. The episodes highlight inventors with extraordinary stories of determination, discovery, failure, and success.
- It works on PC, tablet, iOS, and Android smartphone, and on the web, and supports DayDream, Gear VR, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, SteamVR, Viveport, and WebVR.
Website: Within – Cinematic VR
Guidelines, Platforms, And Tools
Let us see guidelines, platforms, and tools for the best VR app development in this section.
General guidelines for optimizing virtual reality applications are as follows:
- Developers can publish their apps on VR content and app stores like the Oculus Quest, Cardboard, Viveport, and other stores. However, they need to adhere to the guidelines for developing and publishing, for those specific platforms.
- Some platforms require the developer to submit the concept for review before proceeding with development.
- By Amdahl’s law, optimize the sections that are utilizing the larger part of the processing power of the system and focus on the big expensive code paths.
- Identify if a performance load problem is due to GPU or CPU load–CPU is primarily involved with simulation logic, state management, and the generating of the scenes to be rendered. GPU is primarily involved with sampling textures and shading for the meshes in your scenes.
- To hit the best frame rates, ensure each frame is drawn twice each for each eye. Each draw call is made twice, every mesh drawn twice, and every texture bound twice.
- To hit the desired refresh frames for the target VR headset, you might need to follow that particular platform’s guidelines. These guidelines specify the draw calls limit, vertices for triangles or vertices per frame, limit on time spent in the script, among other things.
- You should also try out using a few textures as possible even if they may be large, use smaller working sets, do texture compression, and try mipmapping. These will minimize the consumption of texture bandwidth. Projector shadows can save on bandwidth. More bandwidth expenditure may result from the use of high resolution and depending on the number of cascades when rendering to cascaded shadow map. Simplified shader math and baked shading can help without having to lower the resolution.
- Run a profiler to see how your VR app utilizes resources.
- Optimize after writing and finishing the code, unless if it is obvious optimization.
- Use proven technology techniques and processes. You can try out the level of detail, culling, batching, cutting shading rate by scaling the eye buffers.
- Try changing resolution, hardware resources, image quality, etc.
- Optimize frames for better quality graphics.
- Don’t rely on Asynchronous SpaceWarp (ASW) to hit desired frame rates. It matches a more recent head pose by distorting the previous frame.
- CPU tends to be less of a bottleneck on headsets like the Rift due to higher resolution and GPU load when compared to mobile VR headsets.
- Use graphical style with simple shaders and few polygons instead of photorealistic graphics. The latter requires more processing power.
Top Platforms For Developing VR Apps
Desktop Platforms for Developing Virtual Reality Apps:
Microsoft car demo on Unity game engine:
Unity is popular for those who are into developing gaming content. Developers also use it to develop VR apps for manufacturing, marketing, construction, engineering, and other industries. It features an asset creation and editing software. Other tools include CAD tools, artist and designer tools, collaboration tools, etc.
Unity supports different VR platforms such as Oculus, Sony, and more importantly, developers can leverage developer learning resources and support on the platform.
#2) Amazon Sumerian
This product by AWS does not require VR programming skills and knowledge in 3D graphics to use. You can develop apps for virtually any headset available including HTC, Oculus, Lenovo Mirage, Daydream, iOS, and Android devices.
The platform has an asset creator, asset editor, and an asset manager. It provides the ability to script the logic in the scenes you create. Sumerian has a vast amount of learning resources.
#3) Google VR for Everyone
This VR development tool supports Unity, Unreal Engine, the web, and mobile OS like Android and iOS. It allows you to select the development environment you like. There are also different manuals and guides available for the software development kits.
#4) Unreal Engine 4
It supports C++ coding and Python coding. Besides its compelling editor, it also supports real-time visual rendering. Blueprint is the name of the engine’s prototyping tool. It, in addition, offers extensive documentation.
It supports a variety of VR headsets including Oculus, hence one of the platforms for developing the best Oculus VR apps. It also supports Sony, Samsung Gear VR, Android-iOS, and other headset and platforms.
The Cryengine software development kit is used to develop virtual reality applications for popular VR platforms like the PlayStation 4, Oculus Rift, and Xbox One, among others. It provides excellent visuals and a sandbox that makes VR app development easy, as well as in-built audio solutions.
Furthermore, it is easy to create characters and you also get the ability to create real-time visualizations and interaction for your VR app users.
The free Blender open-source 4D creation tool has several features.
In addition to creating and editing videos and games using 3D models, you can also rig and create animations. It also allows you to create simulations and to render VR content. Other features include motion-tracking. VR developers can also customize their apps using a supporting API.
#7) 3Ds Max
The Autodesk’s 3Ds Max 3D software helps create visualizations, animations, models, games, and other types of works. It provides multiple options for texture and effects creation, 3D rendering, and user interface. Other features supported include workflow, pipeline, and 3D animation. The documentation is also one of the excellent in the industry.
#8) SketchUP studio
This is a good choice when looking for the most useful for architectural projects like construction, interior design, landscaping, urban planning, and 3D printing.
The interface is easy to use. It has the ability to design and build in 3D, features SketchUp Studio, has compelling graphics, and comprises a vast amount of learning resources on the platform.
#9) Maya by Autodesk
This product by Autodesk is a 3D tool for creating animations, graphics, and VFX. Some of its capabilities include modeling in 3D, creating motion graphics, and creating animations in 3D. Others are 3D rendering and pipeline integration.
#10) Medium from Oculus
The medium allows sculpting, model, and painting of the assets in VR once they have been developed. It is suitable even for beginners. One of the best for developing the best Oculus VR apps today.
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How To Play VR Apps
Install the app from the Playstore, smartphone-based VR headset stores like the Samsung VR store, and then insert the phone in the headset.
See above for smartphone-based VR headsets and smartphone apps. For the tethered and some wireless headsets and PC apps, download and install the app on the PC. You can then connect the headset via a cable and play the VR app with the headset on.
With wireless headsets, download their native VR apps via headset browsers or from the particular devices’ app stores directly to the headset. Connect the headsets wirelessly to browse VR content.
Emulators for Android and iOS
Emulators enable you to emulate smartphones and also headsets. From there, after a few tweaks on settings, install VR apps on the PCs where the emulator is installed. After this, play those apps as if running the emulated smartphones or VR headsets.
This tutorial discussed many VR apps that you can use. We discussed different categories of apps that you can use for your smartphone, PC, and VR headset.
For those looking for Virtual Reality apps for daily applications such as simple gaming, the best of choices are those that let you play on-the-go with your smartphones. For purposes of other VR applications in education, health, corporate virtual working, etc, the best choices are more immersive and versatile applications such as Sinespace, Second Life, and OpenSim.
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It is possible to develop VR applications with diverse features and deliverables. Additionally, developers can optimize their apps using developer guidelines targeting the different platforms with or for which they are developing.