We first got wind of Google's ambitious Daydream VR project at its I/O conference in May, and now we're starting to see some actual hardware: meet the Daydream View VR headset, launched at Google's special press event today.
Yes, it's pretty much the Gear VR but made by Google itself – a virtual reality headset that you slot your current phone into. Not quite as powerful as the likes of the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive, but portable and a lot, lot cheaper (it's available for US$79 in November).
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Google was keen to emphasize a few features of the Daydream View. First, it's made from soft, flexible microfiber material, so you won't be desperate to take it off again within the first 10 minutes. And it's fine if you wear glasses, too.
Second, it comes with a controller that has a built-in gyroscope. That means you can wave the remote around as a wand or a lightsaber, Nintendo Wii-style, as well as use it to click through menus and make selections. Both the controller and your Daydream VR-ready phone sync wirelessly, so there's nothing to plug in, and there's space for the controller inside the headset when you're ready to pack it away.
Third, Google has been busy making deals with content companies to make sure there's something to actually do on the Daydream View when you get it. Apparently a game inspired by JK Rowling's Fantastic Beasts is on the way, as well as official apps from the likes of Netflix and Hulu.
Getting games and apps in place is something of a pain point for VR hardware makers, but Google says it's already got more than 50 partners on board. We'll have to wait until we get a headset to test to see what the quality's actually like.
That's on top of Google's own optimized apps, like YouTube and Street View, which will serve up 360-degree content as soon as you've got your Daydream View powered up.
You can pick from three colors – slate, snow and crimson – and the first phones to work with the headset will be the Pixel and the Pixel XL. In theory any phone can be used with the Daydream View, provided it meets the base specifications set down by Google.
At first glance, Google seems to have ticked all the right boxes with the Daydream View, and at $79 it's an appealing buy if you're picking up a compatible phone in the future.
Product page: Google Daydream VRView gallery - 6 images