Android N expands developer support for mobile VR

Ability to designate apps as ‘VR Listener’ or ‘VR Helper’, as well as ‘sustained performance’ hardware support flag, hint at greater versatility for virtual reality experiences
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The next major Android revision could put a serious focus on virtual reality, if early signs are anything to go by.

As spotted by Ars, the latest Developer Preview for Android N includes multiple new VR-friendly features alongside other tweaks, such as support for the Vulkan API.

On the surface level, apps can now be registered as either a ‘VR Listener’ or ‘VR Helper’.

Though little further information is provided, it appears that the service would allow certain apps to interject into the OS’ ‘Virtual Reality Mode’ – perhaps paving the way for message and push notifications to pop up in VR.

Elsewhere, Android N’s framework has buried a new hardware support flag for ‘sustained performance mode’ into its code.

It’s suggested that the configuration may allow more intensive VR apps – such as games – to bypass mobile’s sporadic processing cycle and maintain performance.

However, temperature may be an issue – early versions of the Samsung Gear VR were known for crashing out of VR due to overheating.

The software changes add credence to reports from earlier this year that Google was lining up to release a more full-bodied iteration of its Cardboard VR smartphone-powered headset, as well as a standalone device that could take on the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. 

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