It’s been a big week for WebVR. First, Oculus launched a developer preview of its own VR web browser, Carmel, and now Google is finally bringing beta integration to Chrome on Android.
The search engine giant launched the WebVR API on Chrome for Android in a test state. To get started with it, web developers need to sign up to the Origin Trial. This will allow them to enable WebVR on the Chrome version of their pages, and anyone using the browser on a smartphone can take a look at it. The API gives certain mobile VR headsets access to WebVR content through the Android app. This includes Google’s own offering, Daydream View.
A GamePad API also enables the use of motion controllers with the web’s interface. View owners can use the Daydream controller, which essentially acts as a VR mouse, much in the way it already does for native Daydream apps like YouTube and StreetView. In theory, with WebVR you wouldn’t need to even download these apps to see them in VR, you could just head to their respective web pages. Being able to intuitively interact with the web from inside Daydream could one day be a major feature for the ecosystem, though this is merely testing those waters.
Google declined to comment on exactly which other headsets support this release though a blog mentions that support for Cardboard headsets and desktop platforms — which would use the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive — would be added soon. The next update will focus on “several performance improvements”.
Just like Oculus, Google has provided a support page to help developers get to grips with its WebVR implementation, as this is very much an experimental release. Last month, we reported that Google would bring stable WebVR 1.1 support to Daydream in January, which still seems to be the case. Even with its release, WebVR still has a long way to go before it becomes the universal platform that engineers are working to make it. Expect 2017 to be a big year for this area of the industry, as more browsers integrate support.