How to enable WebVR in Google Chrome

One of the biggest news of the last days is that finally, Google Chrome for Windows has added support for WebVR. It was absurd that Google, that is pushing on WebVR and WebAR (let’s say WebXR and we’re all happy, apart from Charlie Fink that hates the term XR), wasn’t supporting it in its famous browser. People like me had to use Firefox or Chromium (that mysterious application that is the open source version of Chrome), or even Microsoft Edge (for WMR headsets) to experience VR websites. And when the son of Microsoft Explorer gets functionalities faster than you, Google, you understand that something is not working as it should.

Finally, some days ago, Chrome support for WebVR has arrived: some Redditors spotted that on Chrome 66 on Windows 10, you can use your Google browser to run virtual reality experiences. But… how to enable it? And… does it work? I’ll try to answer both questions in this post.

Let’s start from how to enable it: the process is very straightforward once you know how to do it… but if you don’t know, well, you’ll hardly manage to find the way. So, follow my soothing voice telling you the steps:

  1. Update your Chrome browser, so that it reaches at least version 66 (If you go to Menu (the 3 dots on the upper right corner) -> Help -> About Google Chrome, it will show you the current version and will auto-update the browser if an update is available);
  2. Restart your browser after the update;
  3. Go to the address bar and type: “chrome:://flags”. This magical spell will open you a section of special flags of experimental features by Google. Google warns you that the features in the list are experimental and that enabling them could make your browser become unstable, your PC to explode or the Earth be invaded by aliens. Remember: “only the brave” will have WebVR, so ignore this message;
  4. In the search bar for the flags, that you have just below the address bar, type “vr”: this will make Chrome select only the flags regarding virtual reality;
  5. Enable the flags regarding WebVR and the runtime that you usually use for virtual reality: so, if you plan to use Oculus for your WebVR experiences, enable “Oculus hardware support”; if you use Vive, enable “OpenVR hardware support”. Since sometimes I use my Rift through native runtime and sometimes I use it through OpenVR, I enabled all the flags;
  6. Click the RELAUNCH NOW button on your bottom right corner to restart Chrome with WebVR enabled;
  7. Enjoy your fresh new WebVR browser! And have a tea with the aliens that have invaded the Earth thanks to your activation of experimental flags.
how to webvr chrome pc
All the steps that you have to follow in a single image (Click to zoom in a new tab)

Once you do that once, the settings will persist in all your next usages of Google Chrome and you can enjoy VR forever.

Ok, now that you have your WebVR-enabled browser, you’re ready to experience some cool VR stuff! How is the experience? Mmmmh at the moment… meh.

The first thing I tried with Chrome in WebVR has been Konterball, a little game developed by Google, where you control a table tennis paddle with your head. It worked like a charm. Great! I was happy about that, so I decided to start an experience that let me also see how the controllers were performing. To do that, I tried to open Under Neon Lights, an experience made by Within, in partnership with Google and… do you know how controllers were performing? If you thought “In no way since there were no controllers in VR“, you’ve won a prize. My Oculus Touch controllers haven’t been detected in a single experience inside Chrome, both using OpenVR and standard Oculus runtime.

I decided so to give a try to some A-frame enabled applications… to discover that no A-frame experience works inside Chrome. On some of them, the button to enter VR even says that the browser doesn’t support WebVR. WTF.

how to webvr chrome pc
The A-frame boilerplate. A-frame prevented me to push the Enter-VR button

On Reddit I’ve already found other people complaining about problems with WebVR and Chrome... so I got the fact that, at the time of writing, the support has been implemented, but there’s still a long road to go to make Chrome compatible with all VR hardware and all VR frameworks. Come on Google, you can do it πŸ™‚

(Header image created mixing images from Google and Oculus)


Disclaimer: this blog contains advertisement and affiliate links to sustain itself. If you click on an affiliate link, I'll be very happy because I'll earn a small commission on your purchase. You can find my boring full disclosure here.

Skarredghost

AR/VR developer, startupper, zombie killer. Sometimes I pretend I can blog, but actually I've no idea what I'm doing. I tried to change the world with my startup Immotionar, offering super-awesome full body virtual reality, but now the dream is over. But I'm not giving up: I've started an AR/VR agency called New Technology Walkers with which help you in realizing your XR dreams with our consultancies (Contact us if you need a project done!)

10 thoughts on “How to enable WebVR in Google Chrome

  • April 25, 2018 at 1:49 pm
    Permalink

    Win 10 support strikes again… “Chrome will use OpenVR devices for VR (supported only on Windows 10 or later)” (yikes!)

  • April 25, 2018 at 6:54 pm
    Permalink

    Good article! Nice to see Google finally supporting pcvr.

    We’ve had web browsing on the Google Daydream headset for some months now, using Chrome Canary. I even used a physical keyboard by attaching it to my pixel XL using a USB C adapter.

    Of course there are only about twenty of us who actually bought Daydream….you can find all of us enthusing about the “forgotten headset” on Reddit/R/Daydream πŸ˜†

    • April 26, 2018 at 2:19 pm
      Permalink

      Ahahahahha you could throw a big 20 people party in the metaverse… I could join as guest πŸ™‚

      Never tried google canary… how is it compared to chrome?

      • April 26, 2018 at 6:41 pm
        Permalink

        We tried to have a party in Altspace but the Daydream application is badly broken! Its embarassing when Vive and Rift users demand you mute your microphone because the feedback is terrifying people at the campfire 😷

        Canary is… experimental… probably the most polite way of describing itπŸ‘

        • April 27, 2018 at 2:30 pm
          Permalink

          Ahahahaha terrifying people at the campfire ahahaha!

          Let’s organize it on Mozilla Hubs, I’m reviewing it today!

          • April 27, 2018 at 6:56 pm
            Permalink

            I’ve been looking at it too… looks promising

  • April 29, 2018 at 1:38 am
    Permalink

    Not ready for prime time. After I installed seemed fine. Then my headset turned on after looking at a CNN article, just a regular article. I’m thinking this was due to the fact my Bluetooth headset was turned off & charging, as the audio from a video in the article started playing in the headset. (Vive audio strap) Repeated with the VR flags turned off and the issue was gone. I’ll play with it more when I have time to just play with WebVR and not just doing normal work.

    • April 29, 2018 at 2:25 pm
      Permalink

      Very insightful comment, thanks for sharing (and, by the way, I’m honored to see a comment of yours on my website!).
      Yes, reading various comments on the various communities, I’ve seen how there are still lots of problems… anyway I’m glad that finally the support has come. Maybe will need some months to see it become stable… I’ve had lots of problems in the past with Firefox, too

  • April 29, 2018 at 2:30 pm
    Permalink

    I don’t know why it doesn’t work with A-frame, but currently I’ve read about lots of problems with this WebVR support on Chrome, so I guess that they still need to do a lot of work on it to make it function properly.

    Regarding supermedium, I advice everyone try it as well!

Comments are closed.