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Plain VR puts 360-degree videos on your Windows phone for free

We've covered a few apps before on the site that use the Cardboard VR standard to put you inside an immersive experience on Windows, but there are a few more out there now. With generic headsets like the one I have (opens in new tab) being very affordable, it's not expensive to try it out and see what all the fuss is about.

Plain VR is an app I've been playing with recently — it's a simple 360-degree video player for your phone that is [free to download]. It's available for Windows 10 Mobile right now.

Plain VR

The number one thing to point out is that you don't need to have a VR headset to enjoy this app. It will play 360-degree videos to watch on your phone as a regular view, allowing you to pan around by moving the phone. 360-degree video isn't exactly the highest resolution in a lot of cases right now, but that's a limitation on the tech, not this app.

The best experience is by using it in the Cardboard VR view though. In this format, you get the split screen video approach so it can go inside your headset and immerse you fully inside the experience. Watching videos is great, you move your head around to explore the scene, and everything is hunky dory.

There are some limitations, however. The first is that you can only use videos posted online. You import the video from a URL, say from YouTube, to stream through the app. It works just fine, but it also doesn't seem to work with Facebook videos, another place popular for uploading 360-degree footage right now. You also can't watch locally stored files, though we hope the developer will change that soon.

The controls are also hit and miss. To select while inside a headset you just focus the pointer on the video or button you want to select. It works, but there doesn't seem to be any way to bring up the back button or play controls while you're watching a video. And since the app doesn't return to the main menu at the end of a video, you have to take the headset off and remove your phone to start again.

I don't know what the future holds for Plain VR, but despite its shortcomings it's a nicely executed way of trying out some of the latest craze on your Windows phone. Give it a whirl at the Store link below.

QR: Plain VR

For more on the ever more interesting world of Virtual Reality, be sure to visit our buddies over at VRHeads!

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

20 Comments
  • I thought you said there was a few more options? This app sucks....
  • The 360 guys that make that YouTube app support 360 vids apparently. So does the cell phone VR headset even mattter at all? I can buy any generic one I want to use with my WP?
  • To clarify, "that YouTube app" is TubeCast for anyone who wants to know :) forgot the name of the 360 app from the same developers but at least people can find it after finding Tubecast :p
  • The other option is Video 360 app by TubeCast, I think. But it is paid, I guess it's like $1.99.
  • Get message that says my phone (640) doesn't support cardboard. Doesn't have the required sensors. Oh well......
  • I think it needs gyroscope
  • It needs gyroscope, it's a basic requirement for phone VR. So wait? 640 doesn't actually have a gyrocsope???
  • Plus it'd be pretty horrid anyway. Not many pixels on that display. Sadly. But yeah you need to be able to move about 360 degrees in any direction.
  • Like a record, baby....right round round round...
  • With flagships like 950 and 950 XL, having with high-resolution displays would give much better experience for phone VR, the only problem is that not alot of good VR apps around to take advantage of it. The best VR experience we can have is 360 videos, which is sadly quite basic atm. There is also issue with drifting which makes VR unpleasant to use.
  • Drifting is because of the magnet trigger - if it's cardboard just rip it off
  • It is super unfortunate that the high end feeling of "presence" doesn't exist in any mobile app I've seen, except for Android. Do the 'VR ready' Android phones just have much faster screen refresh? Because this app makes me super sick on my L950. Just because objects aren't stable, and the screen is all jittery.
  • It's an issue of overall system latency rather than purely screen refresh rate. If you can get the end-to-end compute & rendering time under 16ms, than a 60FPS display can give a great sense of presence with stable objects. If your overall system latency is slightly more than that, the Oculus 90FPS refresh rate lets you have one frame of latency and still hit a 22ms total latency, whereas missing a frame at 60FPS means a 33ms latency, which is on the edge of being too much. Technical note: because part of the computing happens on the CPU and part on the GPU, you can p[ipeline and have the entire system latency be longer than your refresh rate, but still see a new frame every refresh. It's just that the total delay from when your position/orientation is sensed to the moment the pixels light up in the display is longer than one frame. I work on this as my primary job, so while I know a lot about this, I may not always know the right way to describe the complexities to those who aren't experts in the field. I apologize if I am unclear in my explanation. :)
  • Oh, forgot to add: Another issue is that most mobile VR (Samsung included) only senses orientation and not position, so the quality of the experience will be notably less than something like Oculus or Vive.
  • The burning question is which ones can do pornhub.
  • Up vote here.
  • Take video while having fun on "MarryGoRound" :0
  • Richard, how are the optics on your UMi? I'd be interested in something in the sub-$50 range with really good optics. I understand none of these types of headsets are going to be anything close to something higher end like a Gear VR, but just curious. More specifically, I'd be looking for something that will fit a Lumia Icon, which shouldn't be too strigent of a requirement as the phone only has a 5" screen. As you said in the article, just looking for something affordable to try out the tech and the experience.
  • Forget VR, they should release HoloLens and go all out at to mass now while they have a chance!
  • L930 experience is terrible. Videos pan and rotate by themself constantly even if i do the magical 8-motion beforehand. I suppose thats not this apps fault though. Disappointed at win10m again :(