Every time I ever try to do anything with Google cardboard - apart from the demo itself - the entire thing is a horrible experience.

Take something that seems like it should be relatively common: VR video.  Go into cardboard (the app), request the VR video channel.  Find a video.  Start that video.  THEN hit the cardboard icon that will put it into cardboard mode.  Then pause it.  Put my phone into the cardboard-compatible viewer and hope it doesn't touch anything on the way in.  If anything touches the screen in the wrong place the phone jumps back to full screen.  That means, remove the phone again, re-queue the entire thing and try again.  Finally, I can strap the thing onto my head and if everything went just right, I can hit play and watch that video... at least until it's over.

"If anything touches the screen
in the wrong place the phone
jumps back to full screen."

When the video is over, YouTube does what YouTube always does.  It randomly queues another video that is subject related to the one previous.  Normally, this could be okay, but I've tried this multiple times and the next video has never been a 360 experience.  There is no way within the limited cardboard interface of YouTube to go back in and select a different 360 video.  That means, remove the phone and do the whole thing over again to get back into a 360 video.

I played around with an Android app called Cosmic Roller Coaster.  There's no back in the interface.  Done with the "free" experience, my only option was to remove the phone from the cardboard and hit the Android back button to get back to the main menu within the app.  I then promptly uninstalled Cosmic Roller Coaster.

Google Earth, launched from within the cardboard demo environment is the only decent experience that I've found.  Why is this the only thing I've tried that gives me good feelings about VR as an experience?  Everything else I've tried is mostly a frustration at some point.

Here's the thing.  I love 3D.  I love VR.  I am geeky enough to understand the interface problems and all the steps necessary to overcome them.  Good or bad, Google Cardboard via smart-phone is the first most people will ever get to try VR, and even though it's been around for years, the experience is pretty bad.  I look at the fairly sad sales of the higher-end VR gear (Vive, Oculus or the Microsoft AR vendors), and I can't help but wonder if the underwhelming experience under Google Cardboard isn't part of why there hasn't been more adoption in this market.

I've done some playing with an Oculus and that experience is mind-blowing.  Comparative, Google Earth on both is about the right experiential jump between a phone to a PC hosted app.  That is the only place where Google Cardboard doesn't feel like a complete waste.

Am I missing something?  Leave a comment below if you've found something worth the time and setup of using the Google Cardboard interface.