Rumors had been swirling for quite some time that Google was taking a big leap into virtual reality (VR), and at Google I/O they made those rumors a reality.
Google wanted to create something that has the best attributes of Cardboard, comfortable, and far more immersive. To get there, Google had to do something beyond what it created two years ago. Now it has a system to minimize photon-to-motion latency, higher frame rates, and how to interact with things in a virtual reality setting.
The result won’t be available until this Fall, but it’s called Daydream.
Daydream enables high-quality VR experiences on Android smartphones, based on Android N. That will be created with apps, accessories, and more, all developed in concert for a better experience.
That started with smartphones, which need fast response times for displays, and advanced sensors for head tracking — attributes that need to be present in an Android-based device to be Daydream-ready. There is a new VR Mode in Android N to optimize it for VR, focusing on latency, performance, and more. Latency is under 20ms. There is a VR system notification support.
These improvements are built around Android N, so the entire ecosystem can benefit. Samsung, Huawei, HTC, LG, Xiaomi, and many more will have Daydream-ready phones out of the box.
The first Daydream headsets will be available this fall. It will launch with a controller, too, which is optimized for VR controls. It’s a pretty simple looking controller, with only a few buttons and a clickable trackpad. Inside the controller is a built-in orientation sensor to know where it’s pointing and more.
The controller is part of the reference design, too, and the first ones will be available this Fall.
Apps are a huge part of the deal for VR experiences, and Google has a huge focus on that as well. Daydream will feature a Google Play Store for VR, letting users search, buy, and install VR apps from their VR headset. Daydream Home features access to all of the games and apps, right from a single place.
Netflix, Hulu, The Wall Street Journal, IMAX, The New York Times, will all have apps for Daydream. Gaming will be a huge bonus, too, with games from Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and many other development houses to bring titles to Daydream.
Google will be working on its own apps, including Google Play Movie with HD, DRM video support. Street View is coming to Daydream as well. Google Photos will support Daydream as well. And, as expected, YouTube will be supported by Daydream as well, which will include Voice Search, favorite playlists, and more. Spatial audio, VR streaming, and the largest collection of VR videos all in a one-stop-shop. All standard YouTube videos will be supported by Daydream as well.
All of these new features and hardware are set to launch this Fall. Developers can start getting ready for the platform and hardware today, though.