Before Oculus can have its three days of fun later this week, Google will be getting its time in the spotlight at its own Made By Google press conference in San Francisco tomorrow. This isn’t a VR-dedicated event like Oculus Connect, but we are expecting some pretty significant announcements on this front from the tech giant. Namely, it’s time to learn a lot more about Google Daydream.
The company unveiled this new mobile VR ecosystem for select Android smartphones at its I/O developer conference earlier this year. At the time, we got just a tease of the unified Android VR platform, the motion controller that will come with compatible headsets, and some of the content that developers are making for it. Tomorrow, we expect to see a lot more following the all-but-confirmed reveal of the company’s two new smartphones, said to be called Pixel and Pixel XL.
Right now, we have a lot of questions about Daydream that we want answered. Here are five of the most pressing ones to keep you guessing until tomorrow. Made By Google gets underway at 9AM PT / Noon ET / 4PM GMT / 5PM CET / 9:30PM IST, and we’ll be bringing you full coverage of any VR-related announcements.
What Hardware Is Google Making For Daydream?
Smartphone leaks are not uncommon in this industry, and Google’s Pixel phones have been no exception. The company already made it obvious it has new handsets to reveal (just look at its official website for the event), but recent retailer listings and render leaks have basically confirmed what we already knew to be true. What we don’t know with absolute certainty is either phone’s specs, but it would be sheer madness if they didn’t meet the minimum requirements for Daydream, which include features like an OLED display and high-end processors.
That leads us on to a headset itself. We’re expecting to see a lot of different Daydream Ready headsets, but Google’s own device will likely be the one on display tomorrow. Reports have pointed toward the new kit being called Daydream View and Google will of course have to stick to its own rules and provide a Wii Remote-like motion controller to complement it. We can’t wait to see how the kit stacks up to Oculus and Samsung’s Gear VR.
When Can We Use Daydream Ourselves?
We know that Daydream is meant to launch in some form this year. That’s a window that’s rapidly running out, so a release date announcement is a bit of a no-brainer. Phones usually have a pretty quick turnaround between reveal and release, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Pixel devices launch later in October. Will Daydream launch alongside them, or will it take a few more weeks?
We’re hoping for a simultaneous launch that showcases just how important Daydream is to Pixel. That would give Google the chance to heavily incorporate the ecosystem into its advertising strategy. We also just want to try the headset as soon as possible.
How Much Will Daydream Really Cost?
This is a bit of a loaded question. We all know that mobile-based VR is seen as a more affordable alternative to PC-based experiences but, when you consider the cost of straight up buying a top of the line phone, that doesn’t necessarily hold true. If Pixel phones are using state of the art innards then you can expect the price tag to reflect it, meaning Daydream might not be the answer to anyone waiting for VR systems to come down in price.
As for the headset itself, Samsung set a standard with pricing Gear VR at $99 this time last year. If Daydream were just a headset, we’d be confident that Google could match or even beat that, but the added controller makes this a bit of an unknown.
What Will Be The Killer App?
One of the more mysterious aspects of Daydream is what we’ll actually play and experience on it. The I/O reveal only teased a handful of new games and apps, and a few others have committed to the device since that time. We want to see a blow out of new experiences announced, with enough content to help the kit stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Gear VR and, if at all possible, even Rift, Vive and PS VR.
As for a killer app? That could well emerge from Daydream Labs, the company’s own testing ground for new ideas. One thing we are expecting is for Daydream to do everything Cardboard does better. We want to see apps like Street View and YouTube pledging full support to the new headsets and perhaps even taking advantage of its new control scheme.
Has Google Solved Inside-Out Position Tracking?
Yes, that is the same question we’re asking of Oculus. Mobile VR still lags behind high-end sets when it comes to freedom of movement, and it’s gone from an acceptable compromise to something sorely missing from many experiences. At I/O, we got a tease that Daydream teams were collaborating with Google’s Tango 3D sensing tech. Could we see what that means for Daydream and beyond? It feels like a long shot, but we hope Google is far enough along to at least talk about inside-out position tracking.
Hopefully we’ll have these questions answered in less than 24 hours. Daydream might be the most important VR launch of the year, but only if Google gets it right.