Google is jumping feet-first into virtual reality with Daydream, a virtual reality platform the company unveiled at its I/O developer conference in May. Daydream is designed from the ground up for high-fidelity VR experiences — apps and games from pioneers in the mobile VR industry. It’s Google’s strongest attempt yet at muscling into a market that competitors like Facebook’s Oculus, HTC, and others have already begun to corner. And more broadly speaking, it’s a show of confidence in a burgeoning medium that some say has the potential to upend entire industries.
Wondering what’s up with Daydream? Not to worry. We’ve rounded up all the pertinent details, juicy rumors, and fresh-off-the-press news for your perusal. Bookmark our handy guide to Google’s VR and never worry again about which phones support it, which apps are debuting on it, and just when it’s finally, officially launching.
Google takes Daydream developer tools out of beta, suggesting imminent launch
Just when will Google’s Daydream platform see the light of day? It could be a matter of weeks.
Daydream’s developer tools have so far been in beta, meaning that while developers can create for the standard, some things were still being worked on. Not anymore! Google has just launched the Google VR SDK, which lets developers create third-party virtual reality experiences for smartphones and headsets. Not only that, but Daydream also now supports Unity and Unreal engines. Daydream VR SDK 1.0 simplifies some of the common development tools so those creating for Daydream can focus on the apps themselves.
If you’re a developer and you want to start creating for Daydream, you can head to the Daydream developer website.
Not only that, but according to a report by Bloomberg, the company has been finalizing deals with content partners ahead of a presumed launch in October or November. It’ll be a splashy event: Google is reportedly recruiting YouTube stars like the Dolan twins and Justine Ezarik, unnamed video game producers, and sports leagues to produce a veritable deluge of launch content.
The report is in line with earlier rumors that Daydream would debut alongside Google’s rumored Nexus devices. According to Bloomberg, the Daydream platform, new Android phones, VR headsets, and controllers will debut “around the same time.”
What is Google Daydream?
Daydream, at its core, is a software platform for virtual reality — think of it as common ground for app developers and Google’s hardware partners. It’s the spiritual successor to Google’s debut VR effort, Google Cardboard, but far more holistic in scope — Cardboard supports both iOS and Android devices, primarily delivers low-resolution apps and videos, and is largely intended for use with an inexpensive plastic or cardboard headset. Daydream, by contrast, is targeting the enthusiast market.
Fundamentally, Daydream consists of three components: a headset, a controller, and software like apps and games.
The standardized remote control bares a passing resemblance to a Nintendo Wii remote, and that’s no accident — motion controls are the highlight here. It’s relatively simple hardware by all appearances: the Daydream remote sports a few buttons, a touchpad, and a basic motion sensor. But it’s immensely powerful in the virtual world, providing the primary means of navigation in menus. Moving about lists and carousels is accomplished with an intuitive combination of flicks, swipes, and taps, mechanics that extend to Daydream apps and games. At Google’s developer conference in May, the company demonstrated a “breakfast simulator” that tasked players with flipping virtual pancakes and casting a fishing rod.