Google’s three-step plan to make you love VR

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Times eventually gave it away for free to its print subscribers. And it worked as a smart counterpoint to the high-end PC-based VR hardware from Oculus, which had been acquired by Facebook just two months earlier.

What a difference three years makes. From those humble beginnings, Google is now pursuing a multifront war on the augmented and virtual reality front: its Daydream View VR headsets, introduced in 2016, turn phones into head-mounted VR viewers; a separate class of “Tango” phones incorporate advanced augmented reality cameras for overlaying digital objects onto the real world; and — as of last week’s Google I/O developers conference — a new standalone version of Daydream (no phone required!) is coming soon.

Oh, and Cardboard? Yep, that’s still alive and well, too.

How is Google planning to dominate the brave new world of AR and VR? Not with one singular product, but with a barrage of different approaches on a similar theme.

Times eventually gave it away for free to its print subscribers. And it worked as a smart counterpoint to the high-end PC-based VR hardware from Oculus, which had been acquired by Facebook just two months earlier.

What a difference three years makes. From those humble beginnings, Google is now pursuing a multifront war on the augmented and virtual reality front: its Daydream View VR headsets, introduced in 2016, turn phones into head-mounted VR viewers; a separate class of “Tango” phones incorporate advanced augmented reality cameras for overlaying digital objects onto the real world; and — as of last week’s Google I/O developers conference — a new standalone version of Daydream (no phone required!) is coming soon.

Oh, and Cardboard? Yep, that’s still alive and well, too.

How is Google planning to dominate the brave new world of AR and VR? Not with one singular product, but with a barrage of different approaches on a similar theme.

Daydream View: Improved, and now with more phones

Daydream View is the Google headset that turns compatible phones into face-mounted VR viewers. Google’s answer to Samsung’s Gear VR has about 150 compatible apps. It launched last year alongside Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL phones, and it’s also compatible with the Moto Z and Z Force, Huawei Mate 9 Pro and ZTE Axon 7.

Google is improving Daydream’s software in a 2.0 update (codenamed Euphrates) that will add features like sharing VR footage with friends, connecting with others in apps like YouTube, and checking in on Android notifications without having to take the phone out of the headset. And the company is adding a bunch of phones to Daydream’s compatibility list:

  • Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus: Samsung’s flagship phones already work Samsung’s own Gear VR and hundreds of VR apps. But these same phones will work with Google’s Daydream View VR headset, too, with a software update this summer. That makes these the only cross-platform VR-ready phones available. But, you won’t be able to use the same headset or apps on both platforms: instead, you’ll need to keep two headsets and use two separate accounts. That could test the patience of any VR newcomers.
  • LG’s next phone: This is presumed to be the V20 successor (V30?).
  • Motorola’s next phones: The Z and Z Force already work with the Daydream View VR headset, but others are on their way this year.
  • Asus ZenFone AR: The ZenFone AR is a rare phone that handles both Google’s Daydream View VR and Google’s advanced Tango augmented reality camera in one phone. In fact, it’s the only phone. However, these two technologies don’t smoothly intersect. More on that below.

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