Since its first announcement at the tenth Google I/O, it became clear Google's push into VR with Cardboard was just the beginning.
We long suspected Google would launch a follow up to the simple viewer in the form of a plastic competitor to Samsung's Gear VR - and we were sort of right.
Hands on: Google Daydream View
Google released more info on its own branded headset during its new Pixel phone launch. The VR platform is keeping the Daydream moniker, however the first actual device is called Google Daydream View - and is on sale in November for $79.
Here's everything we know now about the Daydream platform so far.
All the Daydream hardware will have to accommodate a wide set of what Google is calling 'Daydream-ready phones.' Basically, really powerful phones that can run the platform.
The controller is super simple but touted as a powerful little device. The Rift comes with a similar looking remote control but it's not the main source of input. It's been noted that Google's controller is required to "enter VR", so best get used to the idea.
Google services like YouTube, Street View, Play Movies, Play Store and Google Photos will have dedicated VR apps.
The apps will also be parallax meaning hovering over them with the controller will cause them to shift. The Play Store will also have motion intensity ratings in case there's some VR you can't handle well.
Daydream: Compatible phones
So far, Pixel is the first handset that's been announced for Daydream View. There are two versions of the smartphone - 5-inch and a 5.5-inch - and both work with the headset.
With pricing starting at $649, you can expect the upcoming devices to hit the same mark. With an AMOLED Full HD 1920 x 1080 display and 32/128GB on the Pixel, you'll get a crisp screen for VR and a good amount of storage for games and apps.
Previously, Daydream product manager Nathan Martz said during an I/O panel that "Any Daydream phone will run your app well," directing his comments to developers.
Martz then stated every Daydream phone has low persistence display, no ghosting, low latency, high quality SoC (system on a chip) for rendering at 60fps and high quality sensors.
Google is also making Android Nougat on Daydream-ready phones as VR-friendly as possible. VR mode will be on each of the phones providing new features to push out high performance required to run VR. Android N will take full advantage of your Daydream-ready phone's sensors with new head-tracking algorithms.
It's not clear if a small group of partners will be making these - as with Android Wear's 12 partners - or Google will take a more hands off approach as with Cardboard viewers.
Around this time, we will also start to see Daydream-ready Android N phones from Samsung, LG, HTC, Asus, Xiaomi and ZTE Alcatel. Huawei has also stated it will be making Daydream-ready phones, headsets and controllers.
Oddly, Xiaomi recently released its Mi VR Play headset but it's not the Daydream device it will release. Perhaps the testing will also help optimize the headset the Chinese company will make for Google? After all, there's only so much you can change for a mobile viewer.
App partners so far include The New York Times, Wall Street Journal for news while Hulu, Netflix, HBO, IMAX are bringing their libraries. USA Today, CNN, MLB, NBA and Lionsgate have also signed up.
Google is also reportedly partnering up with YouTube stars like the Dolan twins and Justine Ezarik, unnamed video game producers, and sports leagues to create 360 degree promotional videos for Daydream and other content.
More Google VR
Unity and Epic have each announced their support for Daydream, making it simpler for developers to create desktop-like experiences for the mobile platform. Other gaming partners include: Ubisoft, CCP, Netease, Electronic Arts, Otherside Entertainment, Minority VR, Resolution, Turbo Button, nDreams and Climax Entertainment.
Games will be a big deal for the Daydream platform. Jamil Moledina, Google's strategic lead for games, said during the GamesBeat conference that the company is "aiming to populate our portfolio with games that transcend what came before." In other words, Google wants original titles and not current games remade into a VR experience.
Daydream View will cost $79 so you can expect the other headsets from the platform to cost the same amount.
It's even cheaper than Gear VR's cost of $99 making Google's device more enticing. Gear VR also requires the separate purchase of additional controllers where Daydream View is packaging its remote in the same bundle.
Mobile VR is meant to be more accessible for those who can't afford the Oculus, HTC Vive or PlayStation VR's high prices, and considering Cardboard is dirt cheap at $15-25, we're glad to see the first Daydream headset meet a reasonable price point.
Daydream: Release date
Daydream View and the platform are coming out in November 2016. Whether that means the partners will be ready to unveil their products or if Google's own headset will be the only one up for grabs is still unclear.
In the US, the headset will be available to buy from the Google Store and through Verizon and Best Buy storefronts while you can look to EE and Carphone Warehouse in the UK.
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