Five months after teasing its new virtual reality hardware at the annual I/O developer conference, Google’s Daydream has finally become reality.
The company formally revealed its Daydream View VR headset on Tuesday, along with a pair of potent Pixel (formerly Nexus) phones capable of powering the hardware. Combined with the native VR mode support baked into Android Nougat, all of the pieces are in place for Google’s bid to seize the premium mobile virtual reality crown from Samsung. To that end, Google’s Daydream VR headset will sell for even less than Samsung’s $100 Gear VR when it launches in November, costing just $80.
While Google’s original Daydream VR renders bore an uncanny resemblance to Oculus Rift, the final Daydream View design embraced a wholly unique look thanks mostly to fabric-clad exterior. Google VR head Clay Bavor says the design was inspired by what people actually wear, not traditional gadgets. It features soft microfibers typically found in athletic wear, Bavor says, and Google actually partnered with clothing designers to nail the look and feel of the headset.
Initial sales of the Daydream View will be limited to a Slate color, but the headset will also be available in Snow and Crimson in the future.
Google focused on simplicity and ease of use for Daydream View’s design, Bavor says. To that end, the headset weighs 30 percent less than similar devices—cough, Gear VR, cough—and works nicely with eyeglasses. Getting the device up and running couldn’t be easier, either. You simply release the latch on the front, slip your phone into the headset, and close it back up. Daydream View and your phone then connect wirelessly, no fumbling with cables required. And when you’re done exploring digital worlds, the bundled made-for-VR Daydream controller slides securely into the area where your phone normally sits, so you don’t lose the tiny remote between VR sessions. Handy!
More than a headset
Daydream View’s $80 asking price is far more than a basic Google Cardboard setup costs, of course—those literally cardboard enclosures are often given away for free during promotions—but Daydream aims higher than Cardboard.
While Cardboard’s simple apps and 360-degree videos work with virtually any phone, Daydream’s beefier experiences demand phones with powerful processors and fast-response displays in order to hit the crucial sub-20-millisecond latency times required to keep you from hurling when you’re immersed.
Google’s headset and Pixel phones won’t be the only Daydream VR hardware available, though. Daydream View and the Pixel duo are just Google’s own entries in a wider Daydream VR platform. A slew of phone makers are lined up to craft Daydream-ready certified phones, including LG, Huawei, HTC, Lenovo, and yes, even Samsung. Google also shared the design of its headset with partners so that other Daydream headsets find their way onto the market.
You’ll be able to browse, install, and launch Daydream apps and games via a made-for-VR interface dubbed Daydream Home, which (still) largely mimics the UI of Oculus Home. Several heavy-hitting content providers have signed up to bring VR goodies to Daydream, including the New York Times, Hulu, Netflix, EA, HBO Now, MLB, and more. That includes a newly announced partnership with Warner Bros. to bring a VR experience based on J.K. Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” and Gunjack 2 from EVE Valkyrie creator CCP games.
What’s more, Google pushed the Daydream VR platform out of beta in late September, though the company’s still restricting the platform to developers who sign up and are vetted for Daydream VR access. Bad VR can make you sick, after all.
All in all, Google says to expect Daydream-specific VR experiences from more than 50 partners by the end of the year, with hundreds more on the way.