Samsung's Gear VR is an incredible way to add some fantastic VR experiences to your Samsung phone, but there's a weird limitation to this headset. Once you put your phone in the plastic casing, Samsung limits you to the experiences contained within the Oculus Store. There's a way to add VR experiences to this interface through sideloading, but it's complicated and the apps you find aren't always particularly high quality.
The big thing missing from the Gear VR experience is any access to the hundreds of Google Cardboard experiences that are available in the Play Store. Until recently there hasn't been a convenient way to use those apps in Gear VR, but now there's an app for that.
To enable Google Cardboard apps for your Gear VR, follow these steps!
- Install Play Cardboard apps on Gear VR from the Google Play Store
- Tap "Enable Device Administration" in the app
- Tap "Activate" in the Device Administrator pop-up
- Tap the Google Cardboard icon to switch to Cardboard Mode
Once you've enabled Cardboard apps, you can launch and Cardboard app and slide your phone into the Gear VR. Like any Google Cardboard viewer, you'll get the best results if the Cardboard app knows what headset you are using. Since the Gear VR didn't come with a Cardboard QR code, you'll need to use the ones provided here.
While this app gets the job done, it's far from a perfect solution. For starters, the Gear VR doesn't offer a way to tap the screen like a proper Cardboard viewer, so this only works well for passive experiences like YouTube. There are also apps that don't follow the Google Cardboard lens distortion instructions, and those apps don't usually line up well in the Gear VR. Since there's no way to adjust the position of your Samsung phone in the Gear VR, those apps become unusable. That having been said, being able to use the significantly more comfortable Gear VR for Cardboard apps is well worth installing the app, so give it a try for yourself and let us know what you think!
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