Google Daydream: everything you need to know

Daydream Google is Google’s latest attempt to bring virtual reality to mobile devices and will work very differently than Google Cardboard. In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about the new virtual reality program for mobile devices.

What is Google Daydream?

Daydream Google is Google’s latest attempt to bring virtual reality to mobile devices and will work very differently than Google Cardboard. Cardboard is exactly what the name suggests: a cardboard container for your smartphone (with two lenses in it), which can offer a limited virtual reality experience. You can view 360-degree photos and videos and some games and other VR with the box, but you will always be limited because you have to hold the container with one hand.

Daydream is less focused on super accessible VR-experiences with little cost and wants to offer consumers a better and more robust experience by combining the specs of a smartphone with additional hardware and sensors in the form of glasses. Especially when you don’t have money for devices such as HTC Vive or Oculus Rift (or PlayStation VR later this year), but you are already in possession of a (high-end) smartphone, Daydream will be a very interesting option for VR enthusiasts.

Google Daydream is not necessarily the headset that you find in the images in this article; it is a platform for virtual reality on smartphones. The headset picture is only for reference for other manufacturers and the people who like to get a picture of the hardware that they can expect.

Which manufacturers support Google Daydream?

Google has already confirmed that a number of smartphone manufacturers will use Google Daydream. Samsung, Alcatel, Asus, HTC, LG, Xiaomi and ZTE have already been mentioned. In fact, ZTE has already announced a Daydream ready smartphones, as well as its own virtual reality goggles. When the ZTE Axon 7 is launched, it only needs the update to Android N and the virtual reality support components. In addition, the Chinese manufacturer Huawei has also been confirmed to support the platform.

There is not yet much know about the design of the headset. Well, we already know more about the controller, which looks like a combination of a Wii Remote and Apple TV remote control. On top of the controller, we find a touchpad where you can press, giving you touchscreen-style controls on virtual reality.

Google Daydream controller
Google Daydream controller

There are two buttons available. The app button brings all the apps you have installed in the picture while the home button takes you to the Google Daydream home screen. The design of the virtual interface seems a lot like the Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift. You navigate the menus with the controller / remote control. It is also possible to visit Google Play, the digital store of the Android platform, in VR.

Performance of Google Daydream

It is still the question of what to expect from Google Daydream in terms of performance. Smartphones must meet certain requirements to be labeled as Daydream smartphones (high-end processor capable of viewing images in sixty frames per second, screens have little to no ghosting and lag and the sensors should fast transfer the data fast for minimal latency), but what does that mean in practice? What can you expect for virtual reality experience?

For now, the expectations between are between “better than the Samsung Gear VR” and “less than the high-end headsets”. That’s still broad, but not a strange expectation. Daydream platform may be more sophisticated because it is released after the Gear VR, but not as advanced as the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, because the hardware is not suitable for it. What is good to know is that the most popular game engines at the moment (Unity and Unreal) have announced Daydream support.

Pricing and Availability

Google Daydream was announced at Google I/O 2016 and will appear within the next year. Unfortunately, at the time of writing nothing is known about the price and availability of the platform or the headset Google will make. It probably will resemble the images in this article, but it is not yet certain. Daydream is expected on smartphones that are already currently running on Android N.

What can you expect from the price? Possibly somewhere between fifteen and a hundred dollars. These are the prices of respectively Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR. However, because the headset may be supplied with its own controller, it can mean that the price will be slightly higher than the hundred dollars. Nevertheless, the expectation is that you will not spend a lot more than a hundred dollar to the combination of controller and glasses as virtual reality should remain accessible. There are already enough high-end expensive headset.

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