Google’s big October 4 announcement was a long time coming, with many people hotly anticipating new hardware since before the Google I/O conference. When the event finally arrived there was a boatload of stuff unveiled, and of course the stars of the show were Google’s two brand new Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones – replacing the Nexus line-up.
However, another gem was something we’d seen talked about for some time, again, back at Google I/O the firm outlined its Android software plans for Project Daydream; a VR initiative which would see OEM partners making hardware to a certain spec. A few days ahead of October 4 there was a sudden, last minute rumour that some Daydream hardware would be announced and sure enough we were indeed treated to the Google Daydream View.
One of the main issues with Daydream View right now is lack of support. As it stands you only have a few options for Daydream-ready handsets, which are as follows: Google Pixel phones, Moto Z and the ZTE Axon 7.
Beyond this, other stumbling blocks with VR include a lack of clarity when wearing the headset. One big trend that will go a long way to improving this is 2017 is the rise of handsets with 4K displays.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 and, potentially the Galaxy S8, or a model variant, are tipped to be one of the first handsets to pack in 4K AMOLED panels.
Sony, of course, has already done this. Though the handset itself was nothing to write home about. When Samsung brings its new handsets to market you can bet what we see will be very impressive with due consideration given to the affect of 4K visuals on power management.
Bringing 4K displays to market isn’t just a case of outfitting handsets with 4K panels. The entire phone needs to be optimised for the increased workloads associated with running 4K displays. This will likely mean thicker phones, larger batteries and more efficient chipsets.
The one thing nobody wants is 4K resolution and poor battery life. There has to be a happy medium, as users will not tolerate a considerable drop on battery performance for the sake of 4K visuals for improved VR experiences.
Below we’ll go into more detail about the Daydream View, but just to keep things up-to-date, Google has revealed on November 1 that the headset will be available from November 10 for the previously stated price of $79 (£69 in the UK).
You can pick up the headset from the Google Play online store and pre-orders have now gone live. US customers can also buy via BestBuy and Verizon, while in the UK Carphone Warehouse and EE will also stock the VR kit. Although Google revealed he headset in a selection of colours, intially only the grey Slate options will be available, with other colours being introduced later.
Here’s Where You Can Now Buy Google DayDream View:
- United States: Google Store, Verizon, Best Buy; $79 (USD)
- Canada: Google Store, Bell, Rogers, Telus, Best Buy; $99 (CAD)
- United Kingdom: Google Store, EE, Carphone Warehouse; £69 (GBP)
- Germany: Google Store, Deutsche Telekom; €69 (EUR)
- Australia: Google Store, JB Hi-Fi; $119 (AUD); Coming to Telstra on Nov 22nd
As mentioned, we’d heard of Google Daydream before, the big G unveiled a few details of its plans for the VR space at Google I/O in Spring 2016; the main gist of it was a VR project for Android devices, complete with a set of minimum specs for Android smartphone OEMs to follow in order to produce compatible hardware.
Now though, with the official announcement of the Daydream View, we’ve got a clearer idea of how things fit together.
You may recall Google Cardboard; when Google released a downloadable template for printable cardboard goggles which would house a selection of smartphones for use with VR applications. Well, Daydream View appears to be an evolution of that, in the sense that it’s inteneded as a VR device for the masses.
I mean, to put that in some kind of perspective, let’s look at things as they stand for a moment. Devices such as HTC’s Vive and the Oculus Rift have proven popular with the PC and console gaming scene, this does tend to be the territory of enthusiasts and early adopters – such devices have thus far required expensive, high-spec computers and a pretty extensive living room setup with all manner of components and accessories.
Not to mention a lot of fettling and calibration on the part of the user to get it working just right, and a lot of experimental, early-access, and somewhat janky VR software and games. In short, commercial VR to date has not been a particularly polished or accessible thing.
With Google’s Daydream project the firm has already established a bespoke storefront for applications and games, so naturally it wants to get more people using that content. The Daydream View is similar to Google cardboard in being a simpler device that houses your smartphone to do the legwork (eyework?), but it’s a more polished, permanent offering than the old cardboard cut-out.
The Daydream View is made from sythetic technical fabrics – the kind of stuff used in sports wear. This tackles a number of obstacles many users find with the aforementioned gaming VR headsets like the HTC Vive.
First, it’s cheaper, costing only $79 for the headset. Of course you need a compatible phone, such as the Pixel, but this is expected to be more common in the Android space going forward and, on top of that, even the cost of most flagships plus the Daydream View is still going to be cheaper than an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift plus a capable enough gaming PC.
Second, it makes the headset very lightweight, with many users of Vive and Oculus headsets saying that extended play sessions are tiresome (not to mention sweaty). It’s small, light, and portable, and not wired up to your PC like the Vive needs to be.
Lastly, the use of fabrics in construction means there’s a flexibility to it you don’t get with hard plastics – people who’ve sampled the Daydream View have talked about how easy it is to slip on over spectacles and it will adapt easily to fit most head sizes.
Inside there’s a set of stereoscopic lenses for viewing your smartphone’s display. The front of the Daydream View pops open to allow you to insert a smartphone into this space, and also neatly holds a wireless motion-sensor remote – this allows you to interact with what you’re seeing on-screen and generally control the device. It is much more simple than something like the HTC Vive’s dual controllers and functions similarly to a Wii controller, but the trade-off is something that is again accessible and easy-to-use for more users, as well as being compact, neat and portable.
It’s still very early days, but with the Daydream View it does seem that Google is attempting to do with VR what it does best – make it simple, easy, and attractive to a wider range of people than just tech enthusiasts. And you know what? It might just work.
Google Reveals Full Extent Of Daydream VR App, Game & Content Ecosystem
Following the October 4 announcement of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL phones, as well as the firm’s Daydream View VR headset (which works in tandem with them), Google has now revealed a full list of Daydream VR “experiences” users can enjoy.
Google has partnered with a wide range of brands to give Daydream adopters a fairly impressive starting catalogue of apps, games, and services, including HBO, Netflix, Hulu, WSJ, EA, and others. Naturally, at present the only people who will be accessing this content are those who’ve purchased a Pixel or Pixel XL and a Daydream View headset, but Google’s plans for Daydream will allow for Android OEMs to make compatible smartphone handsets going forward – we’d take a guess saying probably headsets too.
Amongst the services offered there are exploration and location-based applications, including tooled-up version of Google Maps/Street View, and Google Photos, while Hello Mars and Ocean Rift offer quite different location-based experiences. There are also 30 VR-ready games, some of which are re-jigged ones from the Android space, such as Need For Speed: No Limits, while others are purpose-built VR games like Daydream Blue and film tie-in J.K Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.
Here’s a bullet-pointed list of all titles announced so far (via PhoneArena):
Location & Exploration
- Google Street View
- NYT VR (New York Times Virtual Reality)
- US Today VR Stories
- Google Photos
- The Guardian
- Ocean Rift
- Hello Mars
- Relax VR
Video Streaming, Films & Movies
- Google Play Movies & TV
- HBO Now
- Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
- Danger Goat
- Gunjack 2: End Of Shift
- Need for Speed: No Limits
- Hungry Shark World
- Action Bowling
- VR Karts Sprint
- The Arcslinger
- Home Run Derby
- Archer E. Bowman
- Underworld Overlord
- Cosmic Chef
- Daydream Blue
- Classroom Aquatic
- Layers Of Fear
- Loco Motors
- Poly Runner
- Avakin Life
- Orbital Loop
- Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes
Clever Bods Tweak Galaxy S7 EDGE For Google Daydream View
Although at present only the Pixel and Pixel XL are officially supported by the Google Daydream View (that’s expected to change as more OEMs produce phones to the required spec), it appears some existing models can also be tweaked to work with the headset. Some enterprising souls in Canada have posted a Youtube video showing the Samsung Galaxy S7 EDGE running with the Google Daydream View, using Google’s virtual museum application and faring quite well at it. It seems that the user is probably using Samsung’s recently launched Android Nougat Beta program in order to have Nougat installed on the Galaxy S7 EDGE – officially it’s still on Marshmallow, and Nougat is required for Daydream VR. The model in question seems to be the Exynos 8890-based Galaxy S7 EDGE.
Head over to page two for the pre-release rumours.
We’re now only hours away from Google’s big October 4 launch event and we already know from all the leaks and rumours that the firm will launch the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones. Although the Pixel brand is already existent via the Pixel C convertible, with the launch of the smartphones it appears Google is replacing the Nexus brand.
According to new details, however, the event may also see the launch of hardware relating to Google’s previously announced Project Daydream – the firm’s VR initiative. Allegedly there may be a VR headset unveiled which, like the Pixel phones, has been made by HTC – creator of the most popular VR headset to date; the HTC Vive.
The word comes via Variety.com, which explains the headset will cost only $79, presumably in a bid to make it more attractive to those who’ve already spent money on a Daydream-compatible phone handset. Previously Google revealed Daydream at its Google I/O conference and unlike other phone-based VR efforts made to date, Daydream has a set requirement of specs for any OEMs wishing to make Android devices compatible with it – including processing power, display properties, and built-in sensors.
So, while in functionality terms the new device appears to be similar – housing a smartphone for VR purposes – the setup is much more involved than Google’s earlier Google Cardboard headset. Google also already has a Daydream storefront in place for VR applications and games.