Oculus CTO John Carmack has revealed that Samsung Gear VR is effectively dead and won't be available for future Samsung smartphones.
Speaking at the Oculus Connect developer conference, Carmack spoke at length about what seems like the end of the collaboration between Samsung and the now Facebook-owned company.
Giving what he called a "eulogy" for the Gear VR, Carmack seemed disappointed that the platform was effectively coming to the end. “While the software is supported, the days are numbered. And I do think we missed an opportunity here,” he said.
When Samsung announced its Galaxy Note 10 series smartphones recently, it revealed it had dropped compatibility with the mobile-friendly VR headset. Considering we hadn't seen a new Gear VR headset since 2017, this news is not all that surprising.
Carmack also spoke about some of the issues and criticisms levelled at Gear VR, mentioning people's fear that it was draining their phone batteries. He also mentioned the challenge of getting people to use it more than just once or twice. Of all the headsets Oculus has put out, the Gear VR was the worst at bringing users back according to Carmack.
The mobile VR headset found large user numbers thanks to its tie-in with Samsung phones and low price, but wasn't as easy to use as it needed to be to truly succeed, according to Carmack.
Still, the Gear VR was a great headset for its time, allowing Samsung phone owners to get a taste for the power of high quality virtual reality better than what was on offer from Google Cardboard-like devices. It also didn't cost a lot of money to own either. We were impressed by both iterations of the headset, with the second adding a controller for extra, well, control.
And, for all that Carmack said the device had issues, he also acknowledged that it has played a major role in Oculus' development of lightweight, mobile VR headsets like the Oculus Go and Quest.
Those headsets, in particular the Quest, look like they could be the centre of Oculus' plans to get people using VR on a wider scale, with the Quest getting extensive support at this year's Connect conference. It's getting new features, from hand-tracking to support for the Go's apps.
Samsung Gear VR certainly had its moment in the limelight and it won't be forgotten that's for sure. It helped put good VR experiences into people's homes and more than played its part in making the immersive realms a better place to escape reality.
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