Daydream Is Google’s Virtual Reality Platform For Android N

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Google is expanding its reach into virtual reality (VR) with the announcement of Daydream, a VR platform that is built on the upcoming Android N mobile operating system. Daydream encompasses both hardware and software, which means that later this year you will be able to purchase Daydream-ready smartphones from popular OEMs like Samsung, HTC, LG, Huawei and ASUS.

Daydream in essence is a more advanced replacement for Google Cardboard and uses a new VR Mode that’s incorporated into Android N. Daydream-ready smartphones are all designed with performance and low-latency in mind and include a VR System UI for navigation. Google has also developed enhanced versions of YouTube, the Google Play Store and Google Photos which were built from the ground up to operate in an VR environment.

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So how exactly do you interact with this new VR experience on a Daydream-ready phone? Well, you can toss Cardboard aside and embrace Google’s new VR headset and controller. Google showed off a reference design for the VR headset today at Google I/O, and it looks similar in concept to the Samsung Gear VR, with a front-mounted fold down compartment the holds your smartphone. The VR controller looks like a tiny remote that you might use to control a soundbar for your TV, and includes built-in motion sensing which makes it work like a glorified Wii Remote when navigating through a VR environment.

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In Google’s demo, the remote is used to select apps in VR System UI, toss objects in virtual world, flip pancakes, and even cast your digital fishing rod. 

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Google is still being rather coy about pricing and an official release date for Daydream. As for the accompanying VR hardware, we should note that the aforementioned Gear VR is priced at $99. We’d expect that Google’s VR headset/remote solution will be roughly in line with that pricing, which would make it much more expensive than the more limited Google Cardboard devices that are currently available.