Google gets serious about VR with Daydream

There’s a new major player in the virtual reality market.

Google last night lifted the lid on its new Daydream platform, which takes what it began with Google Cardboard and brings it to a new higher tech territory.

VR features are to be embedded directly into the Android OS itself, all of which will be backed up with not just a range of high resolution compatible smartphones but also a dedicated headset and a content platform named Daydream. There will also be a VR-specific section in the Google Play store.

Unlike Google Cardboard, Daydream will only be compatible with handsets with the required dedicated components thanks to new standards designed to ensure a smooth, low latency experience. Confirmed partners include Samsung, HTC, LG, Xiaomi, Huawei, ZTE, Asus, and Alcatel.

Google won’t manufacture the headset itself, or its controller, but is releasing the reference design to third party manufacturers, who will be free to build their own. It has, however, created VR versions of apps such as YouTube, Google Photos and Street View.

Samsung’s Gear VR recently hit the 1m user milestone. The prohibitive expense of dedicated VR headsets such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive has led to predictions that if VR is to break through, low-cost accessible smartphone VR could well be the key.

Daydream is due out this autumn.

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