Google Cardboard: the VR App and Viewer, Explained

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The Google Cardboard app helps you use your phone as a VR device for free.The Google Cardboard VR viewer is no longer available, but the website provides a selection of other affordable viewers and instructions for creating your own at home. The Google Cardboard app also helps you properly format your phone screen for your VR viewer.Visit Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.LoadingSomething is loading.

Google Cardboard is the company's affordable answer to a virtual reality (VR) experience: It's a free app that works alongside other VR apps to let users effectively turn their phones into a VR device. They also offer relatively cheap viewer options on the Google Cardboard site, lowering the bar to entry for VR.

Here's how to find Google Cardboard-compatible VR viewers and use the Cardboard app on your iPhone or Android.

What is Google Cardboard?

The term "Google Cardboard" can be used to refer to two different things:

The Google Cardboard app: The app, which can be downloaded for iPhone or Android, helps users launch VR experiences on their device.The Google Cardboard VR viewer: This cardboard viewer was made to fit around your smartphone and function like VR goggles. Google has discontinued the device, though they do provide instructions for creating your own cardboard viewer. VR viewers like Google Cardboard are made to fit a smartphone inside the contraption.Karyne Levy/Insider

Note: Even though the Google-made viewer is no longer available, you can still find similar products from other VR companies through the Google Cardboard site. And those can work alongside the Google Cardboard app.

How Google Cardboard works

To use the Google Cardboard app, you just have to do the following:

Google Cardboard: the VR App and Viewer, Explained

1. Download the Google Cardboard app from your phone's app store.

The Cardboard app is available for download from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.Devon Delfino/Insider

2. Give the app permission to use your camera.

3. Find the QR code on your viewer and scan it.

Use the app to scan your VR viewer's QR code.Devon Delfino/Insider

4. Place your phone in your VR viewer device.

The app will tell you to put your phone in your VR viewer.Devon Delfino/Insider

5. Load up your desired VR experience, either within the Cardboard app or through a Cardboard-compatible VR app.

How to get and use Google Cardboard

The VR viewers showcased on the Google Cardboard site range from about $8.95 to $39.95, and are made from cardboard, plastic, and nylon ABS. They can fit screen sizes up to seven inches, depending on the model you purchase.

Quick tip: Once you have a viewer, you can scan the QR code into the Cardboard app to connect it up, so the shape of each side of your screen will fit the viewer you're using.

You can also download Cardboard-compatible VR apps, which can be found within the Cardboard app.

To download another VR app from within the Cardboard app, select "Get app."Devon Delfino/Insider

To use an app in tandem with Cardboard and your viewer, select the View in Cardboard option.

Tap "View in Cardboard."Devon Delfino/Insider

From there, you should be able to enjoy your VR experience, properly formatted for your viewer.