Google’s Daydream VR headset goes on sale with YouTube VR as its killer app

Google Daydream View image 001

Daydream, Google’s new Android-powered virtual reality platform, was announced at the company’s annual developer pilgrimage in May. Daydream View, Google’s first virtual reality headset, is now available for purchase from a number of retailers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia for $79 apiece.

Daydream is a reference platform from Google for virtual reality applications, smartphones, headsets and controller hardware. The headset, seen above, includes a Bluetooth controller that works in VR-optimized apps and games.

The controller has a built-in touch surface, an orientation sensor for accurate motion control, built-in mic and a pair of physical buttons. The headset supports movement tracking, has no sensors and weights in at 7.76 ounces, or 220 grams.

Both the headset and the controller are available in:

  • United States: Google Store, Verizon, Best Buy; $79 (USD)
  • Canada: Google Store, Bell, Rogers, Telus, Best Buy; $99 (CAD)
  • United Kingdom: Google Store, EE, Carphone Warehouse; £69 (GBP)
  • Germany: Google Store, Deutsche Telekom; €69 (EUR)
  • Australia: Google Store, JB Hi-Fi; $119 (AUD); coming to Telstra on Nov. 22

Here are key Daydream View hifghlights:

  • Simple, high-quality virtual reality—Daydream View is a headset and controller for experiencing high-quality, immersive virtual reality (VR). Simply place your Daydream-ready phone into the headset to get started.
  • Next stop: everywhere—Don’t just see the world, experience it. Swim with a school of dolphins, take in the full majesty of the Taj Mahal, stand at the edge of a volcano – even explore the world’s most famous paintings in a virtual museum. With Daydream View, you can teleport from virtually anywhere to pretty much everywhere.
  • A world of experiences—Browse from an ever-growing collection of apps and games in the Daydream app – a home for all of your virtual reality experiences.
  • Your personal cinema—You can always get the best seat in the house with Daydream View. Experience concerts, sports and more in full 360° panoramic view.
  • Get in the game—The Daydream View controller transforms with your imagination. Go from the sidelines to the center of action. Feel the adrenaline rush as you speed down the racetrack. Bowl a strike with a swing of your arm.
  • Designed for comfort—Daydream View’s lightweight, durable headset is made of soft, breathable fabric to help you stay comfortable longer. With a hand-washable facepad, you’ll be able to keep the headset fresh and clean to share with your friends.

Some of the VR apps and games available at launch include YouTube VR, Street View, Google Photos, Google Play Movies, Google Arts & Culture, Hulu VR, Invasion!, Star Chart VR, The Wall Street Journal VR and more. Many more VR-optimized apps/games will be hitting Daydream in the coming days and weeks.

Check out YouTube VR, Daydream’s killer app.

According to The Verge’s hands-on with YouTube VR, it’s a much better experience than watching 360-degree YouTube clips with Cardboard:

I got to spend a week reviewing YouTube’s VR and I found a lot to love. It’s a big step up from the VR experience Google has been able to deliver so far with its Cardboard headsets. The hardware means immersive films look better and head tracking is more accurate.

More importantly, the software interface for casual browsing is terrific. Hopping from one video to another no longer feels like a chore, and you can keep an eye on what’s playing in the background while cueing up your next bite of entertainment.

YouTube VR certainly gives Daydream a bedrock to build on.

The app supports environmental effects and floating controls and, when used with Daydream View, presents you with a screen much bigger than a household TV floating about ten feet in front of you.

YouTube VR screenshot

The Verge describes the effect as “powerful”:

I watched a UFC fight, and while it wasn’t an immersive 360 experience, I definitely felt myself sink more deeply into the action, with my headset blocking out the world around me, and nothing but the moving image to occupy my attention.

YouTube has added some subtle touches to reinforce the feeling of presence in a physical space. While the screen is magically floating above the ground, it casts a flickering light onto the floor, shifting in color and strength to match the picture.

Designed with low-latency experience in mind, Daydream provides an interface designed for navigation in virtual reality, with a Home screen for launching apps and notification overlays when using a viewer.

Google Daydream View Home screen 002

At Google I/O 2016, the firm claimed a lower than 20 milliseconds motion-to-photon latency for Daydream on the Nexus 6P running Developer Preview 3 of the software.

Daydream requires a Daydream-ready phone with Android 7.0 Nougat, like Google’s own Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones. Daydream-ready phones from HTC, ZTE, Huawei, Asus, Xiaomi, Alcatel, LG and Samsung are coming soon.

Source: Google