Samsung used its press conference at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Sunday to show off the next version of its Gear VR mobile virtual reality headset. The biggest change: The new headset comes with an external controller similar to the one that’s shipping with Google’s Daydream View headset.
The new Gear VR controller features a round clickable touchpad, a trigger button as well as a home and a back button for in-app navigation, plus a volume rocker. Samsung is advertising the controller first and foremost as replacement for the touchpad that used to be integrated into the headset itself, touting that users will be able to “point, drag and drop, tilt, shoot” with the device.
Samsung said Sunday that the controller will be compatible with all existing Gear VR apps out of the box, essentially replacing he functionality offered by the existing Gear VR touchpad.
In addition, Oculus is going to release a dedicated SDK to make use of the controller in apps and games, suggesting that future apps will be able to make use of some of the device’s other sensors: Specs sent out with Samsung’s press release also make mention of an accelerometer and a gryometer, which could be used to give the controller more Wii remote-like functionality. More than 70 apps taking advantage of that SDK are already in development, according to Oculus.
Rumors about an external controller surfaced last week thanks to a FCC filing for the device. Samsung said Sunday that it will also update the Gear VR with a new set of lenses for a wider field of view, as well as some kind of distortion correction technology that is supposed to help with motion sickness.
There’s no word yet on when exactly Samsung is going to start shipping the new Gear VR with controller, or how much the company is going to charge for the device. Samsung is expected reveal those details when it officially introduces its next generation of flagship phones, the S8 and S8 Edge, later this spring.