When Google introduced its platform for virtual reality (VR), Daydream, back at its I/O developer conference in 2016, it announced that a handful of manufacturers would introduce new devices with powerful enough components to support it.
Today, Samsung is joining the list, with an update that will make the Galaxy S8 (and Galaxy S8+) fully compatible with Google’s VR service.
Daydream’s pitch is to give users a good enough virtual reality experience. It isn’t as high quality as, say, the Oculus Rift, but it’s theoretically good enough in terms of immersiveness to get people enthusiastic about mobile VR.
Systems like the Rift or HTC’s Vive offer powerful and engaging ways to explore virtual worlds, but are largely difficult for most people to get ahold of because of price. The Vive headset alone, for instance, costs around $800 (£750), and users also need a powerful (and often costly) machine to run in with.
— Google VR (@googlevr) July 31, 2017
In addition to that, you must have a lot of room to set up a tethered VR headset like the Vive properly, as you need mounted external sensors that can track your movement precisely. In short, it’s not very accessible.
The $79 (£69) Google Daydream View headset, on the other hand, uses a smartphone as its main screen, and is lightweight enough to be carried around essentially anywhere. It is still a niche platform, however, and that may also be due to its scarce availability.
So far there are only a handful of devices that support Daydream VR: Google’s own Pixel and Pixel XL, Motorola’s Moto Z and Moto Z Force, the Huawei Mate 9 Pro (including the special Porche Design Edition), the ZTE Axon 7 and ASUS’ ZenFone AR.
Now, by making Daydream available on mainstream phones like the Galaxy S8 and S8+, Google will be hoping to broaden usage of the platform and bring virtual reality closer to the masses.