Google Announces New Android-Based VR Platform Called Daydream

Google is taking its VR efforts to the next level: The company announced a new Android-based VR platform dubbed Daydream at its Google I/O developer conference in Mountain View, Calif., Wednesday.

Daydream ties in closely with the next version of Android, code-named Android N. Some phones running the next version of Android will be optimized to run VR experiences, with Daydream-optimized phones expected from manufacturers like Samsung, Huawei and HTC. Google is also introducing a reference design for headsets to work with these phones, and will release its own phone-powered headset this fall.

Finally, Google developed its own mobile controller to work with Daydream-powered headsets, and will also release a reference design this fall.

Google will also release a VR-optimized version of its Play Store for Daydream, and the company has struck some partnerships with media companies and others to develop apps running this new VR platform.

Google VR head Clay Bavor specifically mentioned Hulu, Netflix and Lionsgate as some of the companies bringing media content to Daydream. He also said that Google has been busy optimizing its own apps for Daydream: “We’ve rebuilt YouTube from the ground up for VR.” Google Play Movies and Google Streetview will also be available for Daydream, he said.

Google wants to get developers working on Daydream-optimized apps right away, and the company will share additional details on the platform during a number of dedicated VR sessions at Google I/O.

Google first introduced Cardboard at its Google I/O developer conference two years ago. Back then, some assumed the cardboard-based VR viewer to be a cheap way to make fun of Facebook’s $2 billion Oculus purchase.

However, the company has since put significant resources behind the project, and partners like the New York Times have distributed millions of Cardboard viewers. Bayvor said Wednesday that users have installed more than 50 million VR-enabled apps since the introduction of Cardboard.

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