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Hulu Discontinues VR App for Google’s Daydream Headset

Hulu has dropped support for Google’s Daydream VR platform: The video streaming service quietly removed Daydream support from its Android app in recent weeks, making it impossible for most Daydream users to watch Hulu videos on Google’s Daydream View VR headset.

A Hulu spokesperson confirmed the change to Variety, but declined to comment further. A Google spokesperson declined to comment.

Daydream owners can still access Hulu in VR if they haven’t upgraded their Hulu Android app for some time, according to Hulu’s support pages:

“The VR experience with Google Daydream is no longer supported for Android mobile devices running version 3.55 or newer of the Hulu app. That said, it is still available on Daydream-capable Android devices running version 3.54.1 or older of the Hulu app.”

Hulu was one of Google’s original launch partners for Daydream back in 2016. The video service allowed Daydream users to access its entire catalog in a virtual theater-type setting, and also published a small selection of 360-degree content. Hulu’s VR app is still available on a number of other VR headsets, including PlayStation VR, Oculus Go, Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift.

Hulu is just the latest entertainment service to ditch Daydream. HBO, another Daydream launch partner, removed its HBO Now and HBO Go VR apps from the platform earlier this year. And in June, Google itself discontinued Google Play Movies for Daydream.

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These services are abandoning Daydream as the future of the mobile VR platform itself is uncertain. Launched with much fanfare as Google’s answer to Samsung’s Gear VR headset in 2016, Daydream never really caught on with consumers, or the industry itself for that matter.

Daydream initially just ran on select handsets from Google and a handful of other manufacturers, and third-party data suggested that usage was far behind the crowds Samsung was attracting with its device. Google nonetheless pressed forward, releasing a second version of the Daydream viewer and announcing plans for standalone devices from multiple manufacturers based on Daydream in 2017.

One of those partners, HTC, jumped ship even before releasing its standalone device. The other, Lenovo, did release its Daydream-based Mirage Solo VR headset in May of 2018 — the same month that Facebook began selling its Oculus Go VR headset for half the price. Mirage Solo never caught on with consumers, and Lenovo now lists the headset as sold out on its website. (A Lenovo spokesperson recently told Variety that the company was still selling the device in select markets.)

Google didn’t even bother to add Daydream support to the Pixel 3a, the budget-priced smartphone it released earlier this year. Samsung, which began supporting Daydream in 2017, also dropped support for the platform on its latest handsets. In fact, Google’s Daydream site currently doesn’t list a single phone released in 2019 as compatible.

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