Don’t expect to get the benefits of two virtual reality platforms when your Samsung Galaxy S8 arrives later this month. It turns out you’ll only be able to use the Gear VR if you want an immersive experience on the phone. Samsung, though it may have had no choice, isn’t letting its users enjoy Google’s offering for virtual reality on mobile devices.
Back in 2014, Samsung signed an exclusive agreement with Oculus to create a mobile-based virtual reality platform. The two companies ended up releasing the Gear VR, which has slightly improved over time to be more comfortable and have a true controller. Today is different than three years ago, however. The other growing mobile-based virtual platform for Android devices comes from Google. Daydream is just getting started, but it works with a number of phones including the Pixel and Moto Z.
Its deal with Oculus might be why Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8+ are not capable of working with Google’s Daydream.
At the Unpacked 2017 event in New York City, Russell Holly of VRHeads attempted to download and install the Daydream app on one of Samsung’s new phones. The key word in the last sentence is “attempted.” The Daydream app supplied an error message because it is not compatible with the Galaxy S8, meaning you cannot gain access to the platform in any way.
The overall consensus is that Oculus’ multi-year agreement with Samsung is preventing any other mobile-based virtual reality platform from being usable on Galaxy devices. The problem is that we don’t know when the deal expires. So we have no idea how long the wait for Daydream on the Galaxy S8 will be. It could be next month or it could be next year. But we could all be totally wrong here. Maybe Samsung is backing away from a competing product to allow its own to grow. After all, the Gear VR is an advantage of buying high-end phone from Samsung.
If Samsung does want Daydream support on its phones, it’ll need to work with Google. Daydream requires Google to test phones on the platform before letting people put them into a Daydream View.