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Virtual reality is a fairly new phenomenon that uses computer technology to create a simulated environment. In other words, when viewing VR, a completely different, artificial reality is placed in front of your eyes.
With VR, you’re free to roam the artificial, immersive environment, as well looking around in all directions. So, just like you’re able to walk and look around your surroundings in everyday life, VR allows you to do the same.
VR is becoming increasingly popular across the world, with most smartphones now using the technology. This guide will take a detailed look at VR on the iPhone. Specifically, how to use it on the Apple device, and some of the best VR headsets and apps available on the market.
What You Need
To use VR on an iPhone, you’ll need exactly the same as all smartphones. Firstly, a VR headset that provides two lenses and a high-quality, immersive environment, and secondly, apps that deliver VR content.
While the majority of VR apps work with any Apple smartphone, there are certain apps and games that run much more efficiently on the latest iPhones rather than some of the older models.
Despite this, VR apps can be used on any iPhone model for the 5 to the X and beyond. This includes the iPhone SE. The majority of iPhones can similarly work with VR headsets and goggles.
Once you’ve got the headset and suitable apps, using VR on the iPhone is relatively straightforward.
Firstly, you’ll need to tap the VR app or game you want to use to launch it. Then, place your iPhone into the viewer, with the screen of the phone pointing towards you. Once the phone is positioned correctly, raise the viewer to your eyes and you should instantly experience virtual reality.
Depending on the viewer hardware that you have and the specific app that you’re using, you may or may not be able to interact with the content. For example, some VR apps are passive, so all you’ll be able to do is watch the content that’s presented in front of you – almost like watching TV. While other apps are more interactive and allow you to have some degree of control over the content that you’re experiencing. These are typically VR games.
Depending on the iPhone software you’re using, you’ll sometimes need to enable motion data access to use VR. This helps the phone to figure out which direction you’re looking in VR mode.
To grant this access, go to ‘Settings’ in your iPhone, and scroll down until you reach the ‘Safari’ section. Click on this and find the entry ‘Motion & Orientation Access’. Once you’ve found this entry, click to enable it. It’s as simple as that!
Some of the most popular and advanced VR systems available at the moment are devices such as the Oculus Rift or PlayStation VR. These complex systems are powered by top-end VR-compatible computers, and even come equipped with controllers to let you play the games and interact fully within VR.
Unfortunately, virtual reality games and apps on the iPhone are currently nowhere near as advanced as this. They’re often a completely passive experience, with very limited and basic interactions available.
Taking a quick look at other smartphones, the Samsung Gear VR headset includes a feature which allows users to scroll through menus and select content within VR by tapping the side of the headset. While nothing quite this interactive exists for iPhone devices, there are some iPhone-compatible VR apps which let you select items within VR by focusing an on-screen target on them for a short period of time.
It’s worth noting that you can’t use devices such as the Samsung Gear VR with the iPhone. This is because these headsets require you to plug your smartphone directly into the headset and the iPhone’s Lightning connector isn’t compatible with the micro-USB plugs that they use.
There aren’t as many VR apps available on the App Store as there are on Google Play or on the Samsung Gear app store, but nevertheless, there are still a few which are worth checking out if you want to get a taste of virtual reality.
If you’ve got a VR viewer, Discovery VR is a popular choice. This app from the Discovery Channel takes you around the world in a fully immersive VR experience. Other notable VR apps and games for iPhone include Inception, Within, and Roller Coaster VR Theme Park.
In terms of headsets for the iPhone, firstly make sure that the ones you’re interested in are compatible and don’t require a connection that your iPhone doesn’t provide. A couple of the most popular and high-performing headsets for the iPhone are the Homido VR and the Zeiss VR One Plus.
The Homido VR headset is a device which prioritizes comfort and compatibility for users who wear glasses, while the Zeiss VR One Plus headset is more elaborate, more expensive, and supports augmented reality applications.
As this brief guide has demonstrated, VR on the iPhone is still in its infancy. This unfortunately, will remain the case until Apple builds support for VR and VR headsets into the iOS.
However, as virtual reality continues to develop and grow in popularity, it’s very likely that Apple will soon make moves to support it on all their latest devices.