In Mountain View at Google I/O 2016, Google announced a new virtual reality platform for mobile devices. Daydream is the entire package of hardware from partners and software integrated into Android N, meaning the mobile operating system now has its own virtual reality platform to compete with Samsung and Oculus’ Gear VR before any additional rivals appear.
Let’s dive into Google’s Daydream.
Rather than putting itself to work on hardware, Google is going to open up Daydream to partners that are interested in the already-made platform. Sound familiar? Of course! This is the exact same strategy that the company takes with Android, Android Wear, Android TV, and other products and services. Google will simply work on the platform and everything it is capable while others build the hardware to sell to consumers.
Google actually has a reference design for a headset and controller ready for its hardware partners to work with. As you can see in the image above, it’s really simple. The reference design headset has a Gear VR-like appearance with a strap going around the back of the user’s head. The reference design controller, which has two buttons and a click-ready trackpad, looks more like a remote for Android TV devices and less like a controller for a virtual reality headset. Mistakenly thinking it’s an Apple TV remote isn’t out of the question, and the use with virtual reality is Nintendo Wii-like. But this is just a reference design that will change by the time consumer-ready virtual reality headsets with Daydream are on the market.
LG, Alcatel, HTC, and even Samsung are among the partners Google named to be releasing a virtual reality headset based on Daydream.
Upon launching Daydream, users are met with an immersive home screen that shows different floating in a pre-selected environment.
Google is rebuilding many of its own apps for Daydream, but obviously outside partners are what will make or break the platform. Spotted during the Google I/O 2016 keynote were Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, MLB, HBO, CNN, and others.
— Google (@google) May 18, 2016
When Daydream-ready phones and virtual reality headsets launch this fall, don’t expect Google Cardboard to disappear. Google’s first virtual reality platform that has been very popular in education is going to continue operating alongside Daydream.