How to Run Cardboard VR Apps on the Samsung Gear VR
In 2014, Google released a seemingly simple device which would revolutionize the mobile Virtual Reality Industry. The main reason is because, it was cheap. Made up of foaled cardboard and a couple of lenses that could easily be assembled into a simple hand-held VR headset to be used with the current barrage of market available smart phones. Costing only around 20USD, it was simple yet very effective for those who had compatible cell phones and wanted a taste of VR at it's very basic form. The cardboard’s popularity grew until strap able and more comfortable molded versions started coming out from third party manufacturers. App wise, since the phones where mostly of the Android OS variety, the number of VR oriented mobile games, applications and experiences potentially grew.
By 2015, another mobile VR headset which set the standard in mobile cell phone gaming was released. Not wanting to loose out on such a potentially lucrative market, Oculus teamed up with giant Cell Phone manufacturer Samsung and came out with the Samsung-Oculus Gear VR. This headset however only worked with a specific series of Samsung smart phones like the Galaxy Note 4 and 5 and the S6 and 7 series. The Gear VR headset was synced to these particular phones as they could deliver the operation and quality (as well as the fitting size) for the said headset.
Of course compared to the simplistic Google Cardboard starter VR kit, the Gear VR wa a wonder to use and experience. Although mobile phone based VR could never compete with the heavy high-end Oculus, Vive and PSVR, the Gear VR gave out the top-most performance that mobile VR could give at the time. The Apps and games that one could download from the Oculus Store via one's Samsung Phone had a more interactive performance and quality to them not to mention that the Gear VR had an optional controller which could be bought separately. Of course, along with the quality of experience came the price. The required Samsung phone series wasexpensive enough and the headset at the time roughly cost around 200USD. Also compared to the amount of apps, the simple Cardboard had the numbers.
So, if one had the correct Samsung phone series and the adjustable high-quality Gear VR one would have to make do with what was available on the Oculus Store. There is a famous saying: Necessity is the Mother of Invention. So a couple of apps where released and several methods developed so that the Gear VR also run those wonderful Cardboard VR apps. While it is true that Samsung phones use the Android OS as well, the Gear VR is synced to Oculus Home and the service will prevent you from being able to access and attempt to run other outside apps.
Installing either of these 2 plug-Ins ( OS apps if you will) will render the Samsung phone compatible with the Google Android VR games as well as other applications. Also, there will be no need to Root the OS of the phone which may prove fatal if done haphazardly. Rooting will give you access to the inner workings of the Android OS giving you the option to customize its operation but it is sort of a technically tedious process. Just download and use the plug-ins and follow these instructions and you can enjoy the Google Cardboard Apps on your Samsung Phone and Gear VR.
The first step is to set-up your Viewer Profile. You will need to scan a Google Cardboard QR Code depending on the model of Samsung Phone that you have to be able to configure your Gear VR to work correctly with the Google VR app. Open your Google Cardboard app and click the Gear Icon at the bottom of the screen. This will open the Settings. Click/select Switch Viewer then scan either of the given QR codes depending on the phone you have.
You can now opt to either use CB Enabler or Package Disabler Pro. You can check for availability of these on the Google Play Store.
CB (Cardboard) Enabler is a free trial app that acts as a toggle between Gear VR and Cardboard applications. Without this, you will not be able to exit Oculus Home to run other Android VR apps. Once downloaded and installed, open the app and tap on the Google Cardboard icon. You can then open a Cardboard VR app and insert your Samsung Phone into your Gear VR. You can now play or use your Cardboard application. After you finish, re-enable the Gear VR service by tapping on the Gear VR Icon on the app to switch it back.
You can visit the CB Enabler website as well to download from there and find more detailed information about the app and it's use. Just surf to: https://cb-enabler-for-gear-vr.soft112.com/
Package Disabler Pro can be downloaded from the Google Play Store. This app on the other hand as it's name suggests disables the Gear VR service. The disadvantage though is you cannot use the touchpad for clicking and it may not work for Android 7 that has a new Samsung update. After downloading and installing this app, open it and check the box for Gear VR service to disable - just press the (first) icon on the app as it turns Red for disabled. Open your Cardboard VR app and insert your Samsung into your Gear VR. When you're done, again press the icon to Enable the Gear VR service - it turns Green for Enable.
Package Disabler Pro has a Widget option. Just long press the HOME screen and select the Package Disabler Gear VR widget. Press to turn Red (disabled) then press again to turn Green (disabled). Also if you really need a Click option you can pair a Blue Tooth controller with your Samsung to use instead.
Finally, there is a way to use your Gear VR just like the Cardboard VR. Well, almost literally like. However, it is not recommended as the phone will be loose and may slide from the Gear VR resulting in it being damaged from the fall. Also, the phone is not centered and the app’s performance may become blurred. Just simply don't use the USB port on the Gear VR, lift it up as you insert your phone. No USB connection and no Oculus Home connection as well.
These three methods will make the huge selection of available Cardboard VR apps available to you should you decide to use your Samsung Phone and Gear VR instead. Note however that the Gear VR is far way advanced with more tracking and operational features than the regular Cardboard wonder, so don't expect the Cardboard Apps to take advantage of those features as they have not been written or programmed to do so. Nevertheless, the fact that you can run and enjoy them on your Gear VR is already something to be thankful for as with this, you can experience and enjoy both worlds.