Google has been selling its Cardboard VR kit for a few days in the Google Store for 20 euro over here, and since two years the cardboard kit has been offering people around the globe a relatively cheap peekaboo into the world of virtual reality. A lot has happened since then.
Android N and the new Daydream platform are supposed to be further steps down the yellow brick road of virtual reality, at least as far as smartphones are concerned. Daydream is a reference design, and smartphone manufacturers such as Samsung or Huawei can bang the sticker on their phones if the devices are in line with certain requirements supposed to optimise their use for virtual reality, according to Google. Nearly all major manufacturers have jumped on board, states Google. Daydream is claimed to make sure that the smartphone supports some sort of VR controller, the hardware is fast enough to smoothly playback content and apps from the Google Play Store can be installed, i.e. Google is creating its own VR ecosystem.
Unsurprisingly, Google has conjured up a new reference design for a VR headset, and a custom-designed controller. Manufacturers can use the reference design to develop and roll out their own devices. One may call into question if Samsung will now abandon its Gear VR of if Huawei will stop developing its VR glasses. A Daydream certified smartphone will of course be necessary.
Google itself is working to implement VR into its apps. Soon, Google Play Movies, Google Maps, YouTube and the Google Play Store are to be easily controlled using VR glasses. In addition, blockbuster movies will show themselves in VR, when streamed over a smartphone. Content providers such as HBO, IMAX, CNN and Hulu are already on board.
Daydream is scheduled to launch in autumn, a first SDK is available for developers. More will become known in the next few days.