Google has confirmed plans to add native virtual reality support to its Chrome web browser.
Following the news last week that Mozilla is planning on doing the same for Firefox, Google has already has released builds for Chrome that offer functioning Oculus Rift support.
Compatibility with Google’s own Google Cardboard VR headset is going to be added at a later date, too.
“There were several people that seemed to expect that this meant you would start up your browser, put on your headset, and immediately be immersed in a fully VR browsing experience. Sorry, but no. That day is a long ways off, if it ever gets here at all,” Jones said.
“Adding WebVR doesn't turn everything into a Virtual Reality experience. Instead, it provides an API that allows developers to create VR content in the context of a web page
“Picture this: You are browsing Amazon and find a jacket/TV/bike/whatever that you're interested in. If Amazon's developers took advantage of the WebVR API they could add a button that says ‘View in VR’ which let you view the item through a VR headset in 3D at 1:1 scale. In the case of a piece of clothing you could see it on a virtual mannequin, walk around it, lean in and examine the stitching, and so on as if it were actually sitting right in front of you.
“And of course there will be games. That's such a given it's not even worth mentioning.”
The reasons for this slow and cautious approach? Google still not sure whether VR is actually going to take off at all.
“It's still an open question as to whether or not VR will take off this time around or flop again like the last several attempts,” Jones admitted. “It doesn't make sense to add significant new features to Chrome if only a tiny fraction of enthusiast users will ever be able to make use of them.”