Wander: VR Maps & Exploration

5-star rating
Education, Travel
Comfortable, Stationary

Wander uses the rich repository of Google Street View images around the world to great effect, immersing you in wrap-around street level images in ways that are only achievable in VR or in real life. This means an enormous array of both paths and roads are available to discover in VR - from the Champs Elysees in Paris to the street you grew up on years ago. If it's available in Google Street View its available in this app - even coral reefs and the International Space Station feature in streetview imaging.

Wander includes a number of options available in Street View - including the option to turn the clock back up to 10-15 years to see how the location looked at earlier times an area was captured in images. From the easy to use menu on your hand, select some ambient audio or choose from a selection of nearby notable places, or save your favorite places to return to later. The app also includes a social feature where you can join with others to explore the world, either as a random encounter with other users, or in a private setting accessible only with a shared codeword. In the social setting you can see the Meta avatars of the other users you can converse with, and the room host is the only one who can change locations. Great for a guided tour!

Exploring the world with strangers can be enlightening.

Speaking of guided tours, one of our favorite ways to use Wander is in conjunction with the free Rick Steves Audio Europe smartphone app. Enjoy narrated audio tours by professional tour guides as you navigate your way through European cities. Thanks to Wander we can also even visit places that are frequently off limits - into historic palaces and holy places.

Exploring the world with Wander is a lot of fun, but the app is limited to the imagery captured by Google Street View and the quality of the street scenes can vary considerably. We found popular destinations to be captured in a lot of detail, only to walk around the corner into a pixellated mess. Also, navigation isn't perfect and it's possible for the pathfinding arrow to lead you in a counter-intuitive and frustrating direction. At times like this we revert back to the map and reposition ourselves where we want to be.

All of the images served up in front of your eyes do require a good internet connection or an amount of patience. Occasionally we also struggled to get the search bar to take us where we wanted to go, or the app refused to take us to a location that is clearly covered by Street View, but we were still happy to marvel at the depth of content available to us on this app.

Visiting Norway's Pulpit Rock in Wander.

Meta Quest users should compare Wander with our review of Wooorld that has additional features not included in Wander, including an AI tour guide and a where-in-the-world game. Note that Wooorld has a more complicated user interface that the most casual of VR users might want to avoid.

Wander is not available to PCVR users, who should turn their attention to the more capable Google Earth VR. Available for free, Google Earth VR accomplishes much of Wander's functionality and much more. Unfortunately Google Earth VR requires a lot of processing power and isn't available on the Meta Quest.

✅ Massive amount of places to explore.
✅ Simple menu system.
✅ Great social features.
❌ Variable image quality.
❌ Navigation occasionally frustrating.

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