If a picture is worth a thousand words, then virtual reality must be worth a million. That’s because unless you are present on the spot, there’s no way a single photo or video can convey the desperate squalor of a refugee camp or the weightless sensation of floating in space. As a passive observer, you merely witness; with VR, you’re where the action is.
The key to VR’s power and growing popularity is presence—the sense of being immersed in time and space regardless of actual location—accomplished by an artful fusion of still images, video, animation, and interactivity viewed through a head-mounted display.
While VR and gaming have always gone hand-in-hand—relegating it to niche audience—the genre is rapidly evolving to include journalism, creative filmmaking, and mainstream storytelling. VR is not just for recreation anymore.
And that’s where Apple’s new interest in the tech comes into play, despite Tim Cook’s muted praise during Apple’s most recent earnings call.
Whether you own a simple Cardboard viewer or one of the more expensive iPhone compatible plastic or foam headsets, there’s plenty to see and do with VR.
The past year has seen an explosion of VR content in every category for both iOS and Android smartphones, and a huge number of apps are available for free.
Here are some of our favorites.