Forget Google Cardboard, because Google is going big for virtual reality with Android N. Meet Google Daydream.
It’s still smartphone-powered VR of course – nothing like the levels of VR offered by the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive – but it’s being taken to another level.
Google Daydream is a brand new VR platform for Android N that will allow you to have a more seamless VR experience from your smartphone. In fact, Google says it’s going to be more “comfortable”, “richly interactive” and “immersive”.
Daydream will power smartphone VR in a new way to make sure that it offers a comfortable experience through low-latency of under 20ms, increased performance and a brand new VR user interface.
Plus, the new VR Mode within Android N lets you shut off all notifications and distractions while you’re in the VR world.
Google Play is being totally revamped for Google Daydream with a new Daydream UI that looks very similar indeed to the Oculus Home UI.
In fact, there’s a lot about the new Google Daydream platform that looks like Oculus’s efforts.
Take the new controller for example, which you can see below. Like the Oculus Remote, it’s a pill-shaped controller with a touch pad navigational circle at the top and a pair of buttons below.
But the Google version knows exactly where you’re pointing it, how you’re holding it and whether it’s being tilted. Not bad.
This is just a reference design though, as is the headset, which currently looks like a cross between a Samsung Gear VR and the Google Cardboard.
In terms of content, Google has some serious partners on board, as well as making brand new VR versions of Google Street View, YouTube and more.
Google Daydream-specific games are in development at places like EA Games, nDreams, Ubisoft and CCP Games. Then you’ve got Daydream VR apps inbound from The New York Times, WSJ, CNN, HBO Now, Netflix, Hulu, Lionsgate, IMAX and more.
But of course, Google Daydream wouldn’t exist without some super-powerful smartphones. Although neither Google nor any of its hardware partners had anything to show at Google I/O, there are some in the works.
Apparently you can expect Daydream-Ready Smartphones sometime in the autumn – along with Android N – from the likes of Samsung, HTC, LG, Xiaomi, Huawei, ZTE, Asus and Alcatel.
The first Daydream VR headsets will arrive around the same time too.