Google is all-in on virtual reality.
The search giant revealed the Daydream View VR headset for its mobile virtual reality platform today. It ships in November for $79. The device provides a shell for your Daydream-approved VR phone and comes with the Daydream controller. At a product-announcement presentation, the company also provided its deepest look yet at its VR plans. These includes the Google Pixel phone, which is the first Android device that the company is labeling “VR-ready.” This is Google’s big play in the VR space, where it is competing against Facebook’s Oculus Rift and HTC’s Vive on PC and Sony’s PlayStation VR on consoles. But, of course, Google is most directly taking on Samsung’s Gear VR headset, which turns Galaxy phones into a VR system.
Google promises that the View is comfortable and friendly for VR experts and rookies while also providing a more advanced experience than its first generation Cardboard hardware. The company kicked off mobile VR with hyper-cheap phone holsters made out of actual cardboard, and that led to developers releasing hundreds of VR apps on the Google Play app market. Now, Daydream View can build on top of that ecosystem while replacing the flimsy, uncomfortable Cardboard devices for consumers looking for an upgrade.
“[View] is the first Daydream-ready VR headset,” said Google VR lead Clay Bavor. “We wanted to make something that is comfortable and really easy to use.”
Bavor also showed off many of the small details that Google worked into this device. This includes offering a nook to store the included Daydream motion controller when it’s not in use and soft, pleasant-feeling materials like breathable microfiber that you typically find in clothing and athletic wear. And when you use the View with a Daydream-compatible phone, everything should just work. That means the phone, headset, and controller all connect and kick into VR mode once you put the View on your head without having to connect anything with a cable.
While Daydream isn’t as capable as a headset you plug into your PC or PS4, it is beginning to close the gap. The View doesn’t have positional tracking, which is one of the most magical elements of using something like a Vive. That enables you to walk around a virtual space as you move around one-to-one in the physical world. But Daydream does have a fully tracked motion controller. That’s more advanced than the Oculus Rift, which won’t get official motion-control support until the Touch controllers ship later this month.
Having a precise motion controller is a big leap for mobile VR. It will enable experiences like a new Harry Potter wizarding simulator. And with Google promising simplicity, a powerful input tool, competitive pricing, and the boy who lived, it should have attract quite a lot of attention from VR-curious consumers.