Google announces Daydream platform for mobile virtual reality

(c)Google/YouTube 

Those on tenterhooks waiting for an announcement about Android VR at Google’s IO conference weren’t entirely disappointed yesterday, when the tech giant announced Daydream, a platform for high quality mobile virtual reality (VR).

The platform "has all the ingredients you need to create immersive VR experiences," according to Google.

There are three parts to Daydream:

  • Smartphones themselves, including VR optimisation to the newly announced Android N operating system
  • A reference design for a headset and controller
  • Apps and the Google Play store

Google has created a set of phone specifications for VR, which they have built into their new, improved operating system also announced yesterday, Android N.

This means there will be "a lot of Daydream ready phones," Google said, which will include handsets from providers such as Samsung, HTC, LG and Alcatel. Some are even expected to be Daydream ready as soon as this autumn.

Google has also been working on a controller for the Daydream headset appears to be of a very simple design, encompassing buttons and a clickable touchpad for scrolling and swiping. 

They've also in-built an orientation centre, so the controller knows which direction it's pointing in and how to turn.

Google has also built Google Play for VR so users can browse and install apps while they are still immersed in a VR experience - in addition to Google Street View and YouTube.

Underpinning the platform is improvements to its operating system, which it's calling Android N. Google has "rewritten and redesigned fundamental aspects” of how the system works, including graphics and runtime. 

Most relevant to VR however is its release of Vulkan, a 3D graphics API which will give gaming developers ‘direct control’ of the graphics processing unit (GPU).

Other improvements include apps installing 75% faster, an improvement to security with file based encryption and automatic system updates.

While yesterday's announcement is of a VR platform rather than a standalone headse, keep your eyes peeled for more news from day two of the conference, where another VR specific session's taking place at 5pm BST.  

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