Yesterday Google announced its new flagship phone, Pixel, and a lot of new epic stuff, among which its new virtual reality platform: Daydream. If you, like me, didn’t watch the live streaming (too lazy to do it), you can read the main points of the conference here.
So, Google abandoned Nexus brand to start the Pixel one: the phone is quite powerful, has a good design and has reduced the gap with Samsung and Apple phones. New software features like Google Assistant and free cloud storage to store your photos at high resolutions make it a lot appealing to consumers. This is an image of two Pixel phones… cool, aren’t they?
With this new phone, the company has launched its new virtual reality platform, that is Daydream and its new headset, the Daydream View.
What is Daydream and what is Daydream View? Well, long story short, it is the Google equivalent of GearVR ecosystem: Daydream is the software platform (like Oculus Store) alongside with the guidelines to create Daydream-compatible headsets; and the Daydream View is the first Daydream-compatible headset, made by Google (so, it’s like the GearVR headset). The project is very very interesting and I invite you to read more about this on articles made by journalists that were able to try it, like this one or this other one. Here I just want to highlight some points and make some consideration.
First of all, in my opinion Google is going to fight Oculus on the mobile side, in the same way that HTC is fighting it on the desktop side: a more open ecosystem, with some fresh new innovations. With Cardboard there was not a real competition, because they were 2 different kind of headsets, with 2 different kind of customers: GearVR was a high-tier virtual reality product, while Cardboard was a super-cheap headset, useful only to let people dipping the toe in the sea of virtual reality. Now with Daydream we have a high quality headset with a high price: Pixel phone costs 649$ and the Daydream View costs 79$, so the final price is really high, quite the same of the Samsung Gear VR full system. Even the distribution system is similar, since Google is giving away free Daydream View headset if you preorder Pixel phones (do this make you remember something similar? Mmmhh…). You can start preordering Pixel phones (and so Daydream viewers) from Google from October 20th.
So, in the next times I expect a huge competition coming from Google towards Oculus. But… what are the main key points of this new headset? In my opinion, 3 are the one to get:
- Daydream is not a headset, it is an open platform. This means that:
- In the next times we will see cheap Daydream Chinese clone headsets: since Daydream is a set of specs, a lot of producers will be able to create their own headset and this will mean a different range of prices and quality, that has been one of the reasons of Cardboard success;
- In the future we will see more Daydream-compatible phones. At the moment you have to spend 650 bucks, but the more phones will come out, the more cheap opportunities will pop up. This will also mean that more people will enjoy VR, as with Cardboard: with GearVR you have to own a Samsung phone;
- Daydream has a new kind of controller: forget the D-pad at the right side of a GearVR and the trigger of Cardboards: with Daydream you have a fancy remote (that reminds a bit the Oculus Remote) with which you can control the apps. The remote has some buttons and sliders, but the most important thing in my humble opinion is that it can detect its orientation. This means that you can use it to point at objects and this can be very useful to avoid awkward gaze-based interfaces that forces you to move your head to interact with the world.
- The attention to design of Daydream View. Daydream View is an innovative headset because it’s been made of fabric and foam, not of plastic like all the others. It’s also very good to be cleaned, because the foam that goes on your face can be removed and washed. I think that it’s great because it makes the headset look less nerdy and more appealing to customers, because it resembles a piece of clothing and everyone is used to wear clothes. Honestly I don’t like it (I’m a nerd after all.. I’m proud to look nerdy!), but I think that lots of people will prefer it like this, because it’s more friendly.
One last word about content: Google is already at work to have some fancy demos (one inspired by Harry Potter, for example) and is partnering with Hulu and Netflix to have videos to show inside the headset. One noticeable thing is that this headset will be the first and only one to have an authentic Youtube VR app. There’s obviously still a lot to do on this side.
There would be lots of other interesting things to say, but my time is over… so I invite you to visit the above linked articles to be informed!
So, are you going to buy a Daydream headset? Let me know in the comments!