Screenshot of the laser tool on Earth in Universe Sandbox on a smartphone.
Universe Sandbox on iOS! We’re also working on an Android version.

You can purchase Universe Sandbox via our website or the Steam Store.

Have you ever wanted a universe in your pocket? We have too, and so we’ve been actively working on a mobile version of Universe Sandbox for both iOS and Android to make this a reality.

Universe Sandbox for mobile will have the same features and interface as the desktop version (in fact mobile and desktop are built from the same source code) and we are working to make sure it is an equally enjoyable experience.

All-Around Improved Experience

Our work on mobile has motivated many features and improvements that have already been made to the desktop version. This includes automatic scaling of graphics settings based on screen resolution and the separate, minimizable panel that comes up when you use a tool, like the laser. Additionally, optimizing Universe Sandbox for mobile has the added benefit of improving performance on the desktop version.

Screenshot of the laser tool on Earth in Universe Sandbox on a smartphone.
Adapting Universe Sandbox for mobile challenged us to simplify our user interface to its core, resulting in changes like the separate, minimizable panel for the tool currently in use, like the laser (shown in the lower right here on a smartphone).

Designing a Handheld Universe Simulator

For the last few months, we’ve been focusing on making sure the mobile version is just as fun to play as the desktop version. In Update 26, we unified the user interface across desktop and VR, and we’re continuing to develop this unified interface with physically smaller (that is, mobile) screens in mind. You can check out how we are building this flexible user interface right now by making the window in the desktop version small. If you do try this, you’ll notice it presents quite a design challenge, not only for existing features but also for any features we add.

The interface filling up the entire screen on a mobile phone shows how challenging it can be to fit all of the windows on a smaller display.

You may have seen some of the improvements we’ve made to our user interface in recent updates. For example, our bottom bar redesigns both create a sleeker, more adaptable desktop experience while also making everything more accessible on mobile. However, we are still working on solving a few design challenges including (but not limited to):

  • What’s the best way to manage all of the different panels on a small screen (our guide system creates particular challenges)?
  • Working around the limitations of minimum button sizes required for a touchscreens
  • How do we make the user interface work in both portrait and landscape orientations?
Lower amounts of memory on mobile phones, as well as hardware limitations leading to poor performance, are two of the challenges we are still working on to get Universe Sandbox to run smoothly on mobile devices.

What’s Next for Mobile Development

We have been working on numerous updated user interface designs that improve functionality and clarity no matter what device you are on, and implementing those is one of our major next steps. We’re also currently hiring a cross-platform engineer to help bring Universe Sandbox to mobile and beyond.

There are occasional bugs to fix in the mobile version, such as this one showing patchy trails on an iOS phone at high simulation speeds. (By the way, we fixed this bug!)

While we still do not have a release date or official price for mobile, we currently plan on it being a one-time paid app with no ads or in-app purchases. We hope to write more of these mobile-focused DevLogs as we make more progress, so stay tuned!

If you want to receive updates when there is new information about mobile, like this DevLog, sign up for our mailing list: 

To join our community discussions, please join us on our Steam Forum and our official Discord community