After years of dabbling, Google is getting serious about VR. Meet Daydream, Google’ three-part plan to take the world of VR by storm with Android.
Google publicly waded into the VR world a few years ago with its cheap Google cardboard viewer, which has sold some 5 million units to date. Last year, it launched “Jump,” an end-to-end solution for creating, producing, and playing back 360 video content.
Today, Google takes the next step on mobile phone based VR, with new VR-specific features baked right into the Android OS. The three part plan, including phones, headsets, and a content ecosystem is called Daydream.
From the smartphone point of view, Google is incorporating a new “VR Mode” directly into Android N, which optimises the phone’s performance and UI for use in Cardboard viewers. Notifications will show up properly, even in VR, and the phone’s display will respond with blistering 20ms latency.
Though Google’s not actually producing a competitor to Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, it’s releasing a reference design for a VR headset and controller, which will be made available to third-party manufacturers. The company is showing off the design at I/O, but beyond having a phone holder and a strap, it’s not clear how exactly it’ll be distinct from competition.
The last bit is a special version of Google Play specifically for VR. You’ll be able to shop for VR apps and experiences directly from VR mode. Partners include a lot of obvious players like The New York Times, Hulu, Netflix, and others. Google apps like Movies will also be available.
Google has also built a special app launcher for VR called Dayream Home—it sounds a lot like Oculus’s Home.
Daydream arrives this autumn, with developer previews dropping today. Oculus, watch your back.