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Google today is announcing that people can now view virtual reality (VR) content in the Chrome app on Daydream-ready Android devices such as the Google Pixel and Pixel XL. This is the first time such capability is becoming a part of a stable build of Chrome.
This type of VR experience will work now on Google’s Daydream View headset when used with the Pixel phones. But you’ll also be able to explore VR sites even without this sort of equipment.
“If you don’t have a headset you can view VR content on any phone or desktop computer and interact using your finger or mouse,” Google product manager Megan Lindsay wrote in a blog post.
In the next few months, Lindsay wrote, Google will make it possible to view VR pages inside the Google Cardboard VR headset. This whole time the Cardboard experience, and the Google Daydream View experience, has been constrained to apps, but now it’s coming to the web — specifically through the Chrome browser, which has more than 1 billion active users on Android and iOS.
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Google has been taking steps to prepare for this moment. More than a year ago now, Google chose Clay Bavor to head up its VR division. It introduced the Pixels as the first Daydream-ready phones in October. In December it introduced an origin trial for developers to try the WebVR application programming interface (API) in the beta release of Chrome 56 for Android. And in May Google hired Josh Carpenter, the head of Mozilla’s MozVR initiative. He’s been working on WebVR as a user interface designer for immersive computing at Google.
The WebVR API is also available in the Firefox Nightly browser, in preview in Microsoft’s Edge browser (with build 15002 for Insiders), and in Samsung’s internet browser for its Gear VR headset.
Google is in the process of bringing WebVR to Chrome for desktop operating systems, a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email. As of now, developers still need to enroll in the origin trial to get a token for the WebVR API, the spokesperson wrote.
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