So you've got an iPhone and you have a virtual reality headset. You can use most VR apps with any Apple smartphone, from iPhone 5 to iPhone X, including the iPhone SE. And several headsets work with iPhones such as Google Cardboard, Merge VR, Noon VR Pro, or the Carl Zeiss VR One Plus.
When it comes to finding cool VR apps, Apple offers an array of them in its App Store, but frankly, many just don't have that "wow" factor you should get from a virtual reality experience. That's where we can help. Check out 10 of the coolest VR apps you can get on an iPhone.
1 End Space VR
Who doesn't love a good space battle? End Space VR, by Justin Wasilenko, delivers it in a beautiful, blazing virtual environment. You helm the controls of your own spaceship and your mission is to blow up enemy ships before they blow you up. The tension mounts as your shields weaken, and you wonder if they'll recharge in time for you to fight another day. The colors and details of the graphics are spectacular, and the gameplay is fast and furious. You'll have to pony up 99 cents for this app, but the admission price is more than worth the ride.
2 InMind VR
You know all those science-fiction stories where someone is shrunk to microscopic size and placed in the body or brain of a full-sized person? Well, now you can live out that same story yourself, albeit in a virtual world.
With the free InMind VR app by Nival, you play a human faced with the task of helping a patient suffering from a depressive disorder. The catch? You treat your patient from the inside. You're miniaturized and transported to the person's brain, where your job is to attack red neurons in an attempt to cure your patient. The gameplay is simple, but the graphics light up the experience.
When you're done you can move up to InMind VR 2, which serves up a tutorial on the brain's chemistry and offers one story for free and 300 stories to the tune of $2.99.
3 Jaunt VR
Feel like catching a good movie, but in virtual reality? The free Jaunt VR app describes itself as "cinematic virtual reality," and that's exactly what you'll experience. The app acts as a portal to dozens of amazing 360-degree films, documentaries, musical performances, and other videos.
You start by navigating around a virtual room where you can choose among top, featured, and new and noteworthy films. Check out the Olympic Channel with clips from the point of view of skaters, skiers, snowboarders, and bobsledders. Walk with penguins in a sub-Antarctic colony. Experience the plight of people in the Solomon Islands facing the price of conflict and the prospect of peace. Thrill as you watch Paul McCartney sing "Live and Let Die" in front of a live audience. The films are well made and gripping on their own. But with the added touch of VR, you truly feel a part of the action.
4 Liftoff VR
Here's a short but sweet space-age app. With the free Liftoff VR app by Neel Murarka, you watch as a SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket launches from Earth into space and then releases a satellite into orbit. As with any VR app, you can turn your head in any direction to see up, down, or all around. I especially love the view of the sky as the stars slowly become visible. As a finale, the app challenges you to land the booster on a drone ship without crashing or exploding. Not an easy task, and it may take you a few tries to set your ship down just right.
5 Virtual Reality Moon
On The Honeymooners, Ralph was always threatening to send Alice to the moon. Well, now you can see if she's really there, at least in the world of virtual reality. The free Virtual Reality Moon app by Andrew Sasaki transports you to the surface of Earth's only natural satellite. Gaze upon the beauty of the Earth, sun, and stars. View the International Space Station. Best of all, hold down the Action button on your headset, and you can take a brisk stroll along the moon's surface. Wend your way across the rough terrain, climbing over bumps and trekking up and down the walls of craters. The app is simple but effective.
6 VR Mojo Orbulus
Want to see other countries but can't afford the air fare? The free VR Mojo Orbulus offers you a virtual trek of sights and sounds from around the world. The app starts by displaying floating photo spheres, each one a gateway to a different destination. Look at a sphere that interests you, and you're transported to that place and event. Visit Rockefeller Center in New York City. See a Ghost Train Ride in Poland. Gaze at the pyramids in Egypt. Enjoy Paris at night. And you're not bound to just scenic hot spots. You can experience what it's like to be a sock in the center of a washing machine, look inside a World War II gun turret, and stand on the surface of Mars.
7 VR Noir
Ever wanted to play private eye? Now you can, in a virtual world. In the free VR Noir app by Start VR, you take on the role of Veronica Coltrane, a divorced mother battling with her ex-husband and forced to set up shop as a private detective after being thrown off the police force. Taking on a new client, you have to decide what you'll do and how far you'll go to solve the case.
Several elements make VR Noir a compelling experience. The story is interactive, so you have to make certain decisions along the way to drive the plot forward. The app is more than just a 360-degree environment. It's a full movie, made using real people and real settings and filmed just like a vivid motion picture. The characters are also captivating, so you'll want to keep playing just to see what happens to them.
8 VR Roller Coaster
You'll find a lot of virtual reality roller coaster apps for the iPhone; some good, some meh. The free VR Roller Coaster by Frag is one of the best I've tried. The app offers two roller coaster tracks. Both are situated in the heart of a big city, so you experience the scale and grandeur of tall buildings and other landmarks as you hang on for the ride. The roller coaster takes you through the usual ups, downs, twists, and turns but also throws in some crazy loop-the-loops where you really feel the sensation of being upside down. But watch out! If you get dizzy on real roller coasters, you may feel a bit woozy on this virtual ride.
9 Zombie Shooter VR
Move over, Walking Dead. Now you get a chance to kill zombies in your own virtual world. Zombie Shooter VR by FIBRUM starts you off all alone in a small, dank room. Pick up a weapon, go through the door, and you're on your way to meet zombies. Travel down a long subway tunnel. Go through an abandoned subway car…and beyond.
The game automatically moves you along and fires at each new zombie who rises up from the dead. You also bump into different obstacles you must shoot to keep going. But don't let the zombies get too close, otherwise you'll be dead, too.
The free version restricts you to a trial scenario that lasts a couple of minutes. To continue meeting and shooting zombies, you'll have to fork over $1.99 for the full version. But once you get a taste of the virtual living dead, you'll hunger for more. FIBRUM offers a related VR game called VR Zombie Warfare.
10 VR Tube
YouTube offers an array of 360-degree videos you can view through your virtual reality headset. One way to experience them is by searching for "360 videos" via the YouTube app. Another way is by using the app VR Tube by Caramba App Development. The basic version is free and provides access to hundreds of videos. For $1.99, you can create your own playlists, remove ads, and view all videos.
Either way, you can check out the latest set of 360-degree videos, scan the various channels, scour through different categories, and search for specific videos. Some videos don't quite measure up, but others truly give you a sense of being in a 3D virtual world. One cool video simulates you what the Earth looks like when hit by an asteroid. Another video takes you inside an undersea tank as you watch sharks swim around you, bearing their deadly teeth. A third video places you inside the cockpit of an airplane as you watch the skies above and around you, and the countryside below.